Army Specialist Diane Crews was acclaimed by members of her unit to be an excellent soldier. As an optician, she was kind, meticulous and an eager worker in the production of glasses and the delivery of the finished product to her patients. Though Specialist Crews appeared to be an excellent person and worker, she had one weakness—she was a bit of a gossiper. At times, she was unable to contain herself when a juicy story presented itself.
Such a story did present itself to Specialist Crews as she placed a pair of glasses on a soldier’s face. Without checking out her story, Specialist Crews repeated the tale within three hours with additional embellishments. The soldier about whom the story concerned was angered, frustrated and unable to defend herself from the rumor spread about her. Specialist Crews learned weeks later that the story she told another soldier was not true resulting in a career oriented soldier to be dismissed from the Army with a Dishonorable Discharge. She was so sorry for the damage she caused that she went to talk to a mental health counselor to find out what she could do to reverse the damage.
After an hour long counseling session, the therapist said: “Specialist Crews go to the post commissary and purchase four cases of the best candy you can find. Once you obtain the candy give the contents of the cases or whole case if you wish to members of your Battalion or to your patients. You must deliver your candy in a single day. After three days, come back for a follow up session.”
Specialist Crews thought the therapist’s recommendations were unusual but complied with them nonetheless. She was able to distribute her gifts within hours after her purchases. On the third day, Specialist Crews returned hopeful her actions would in some way clear her conscious.
“Now Specialist Crews returned to those you gave the candy to then collect them and then bring them to me.”
“Why?” she thought. “I guess she knows what she’s doing. She’s trying to help me. I’ll do it.”
Specialist Crews retraced her path the best she could. However, she never made a list of who she gave the candy to or where they could be located. After more than a day of attempting to recover the candy, she returned to the therapist without any of the candy.
“Ma’am, I’m sorry. I couldn’t get back any of the candy. When I went to member of the Battalion, they either ate the candy or gave it to friends. I couldn’t find the civilians I gave it to because I didn’t make a list. So I don’t have any of the candy. Why did you make me do this anyway?”
“Specialist Crews, first of all I never made you do anything. I recommended a task you accepted. Secondly, as I hope you have learned, it is very easy to give away, in this instance candy, but difficult to get whatever you give out back. In this instance, the people you gave your candy to ate it, gave it away or shared it with family or friends. So it is with gossip. Gossip takes little or no effort to give away to those willing to accept your free gift. However, he or she who spread gossip can almost never completely reverse something so easily consumed. So what is wrong and evil cannot be undone nor the people damaged as a result of them.”