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A man spread vicious rumors and harmful gossip about another man. In this small village the judge not only presided over cases where the law was broken but also over cases involving unethical or improper conduct.

So the man who had spread the malicious gossip was brought before the judge. The judge stepped from behind the bench and handed the man a large bag full of chicken feathers.

Here is what I want you to do. I want you this very day, to place a feather upon the doorstep of each and every home that has heard and listened to your gossip, and upon the doorsteps of those who have repeated what you have said.

After you have completed this assignment I want to see you back in my courtroom tomorrow morning.

Well, the man quickly began placing the feathers on the door step of each home that had either heard about the rumor or had helped spread the gossip by repeating it to others. After 4 hours the man returned home, Having nearly emptied his bag of feathers.

That night there was a terrible storm. The rains fell and the winds blew. But the man slept soundly. Happy that his punishment had been concluded.

The next day he entered the courtroom and the judge again stepped out from behind the bench.

This time with an empty sack. Now, he said, I want you to go back to each home and collect the feathers.

The man said, “There is no way I can collect each of the feathers. The wind blew last night and those feathers are surely scattered all over the countryside.”

And the judge said, “And neither can you withdraw the harm you have done by saying what you said.”