I know little about Jewish history or culture, so when I came across the concept of lashon hara recently I was amazed.
Lashon hara, in Jewish religious law, means any form of speech or communication that may harm someone emotionally, financially, physically, or damage their reputation. It is forbidden to speak lashon hara, and it is considered to be a serious sin.
What makes the law of not speaking lashon hara so compelling is that it is forbidden to speak lashon hara even if it is true. Furthermore, it is forbidden to listen to lashon hara. If you hear lashon hara, you should reprimand the speaker or exit the conversation. Listening to lashon hara is seen as an even greater sin than speaking it. And, if you do hear lashon hara, you are forbidden to believe it.
It seems an almost impossible ideal to live up to fully. For example, It is difficult not to speak lashon hara when discussing politics.
I've long struggled with the self-imposed rules of who I should or should not respect and have written about it in my blook. In the light of lashon hara, I may need to revisit it.
Lashon hara represents the gold standard in "showing respect" - a set of rules that I feel we should all be striving for if we are to create a better world though I suspect a large number of people would not agree with me.
Having read and thought deeply about the subject, I've committed myself to do my damnedest not to speak lashon hara. I am more aware of my speech now and in trying not to speak it, I've realized just how difficult it is. But I will continue to strive to do so and see what I learn along the way.
I don't pretend to understand the intricacies of lashan hara, so if anyone out there is of the Jewish faith and can help educate me a little more, I'd appreciate it.