Destroying your neighbor

Paulo Coelho

Malba Tahan illustrates the dangers of words: a woman said so often that her neighbor was a thief that the young man was finally arrested. Some days later, they discovered that he was innocent and set him free. Then he sued the woman.

– Comments are not so serious – she said to the judge.

– Granted – answered the magistrate. – When you get back home today, write down everything bad you said about the young man, then tear up the paper and throw the bits away as you walk along. Come back tomorrow to hear the sentence.

The woman obeyed and returned the following day.

– You are pardoned if you give me the bits of paper you spread on the street yesterday. Otherwise you will be condemned to a year in prison – declared the magistrate.

– But that’s impossible! The wind has blown them all away!

– In the very same way, a simple comment can be spread by the wind and destroy a man’s honor, and afterwards it is impossible to repair the harm that has been done.

And he sent the woman off to jail.

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