Studying the ways in which we discuss the faults of others can reveal much about the ways in which we place walls between ourselves and the world in general. When even the more subtle self-serving intentions are added onto the words we convey about other people, we distance ourselves both from them and ourselves. By creating this separation, we encourage the specialness of me. Feelings of inadequacy, imperfection, fear, and shame may be temporarily assuaged, but they are only pushed aside to reappear at an another time. We deeply harm them when we speak of others in degrading ways, and we harm ourselves as well because we deny acceptance, compassion, and generosity as part of the fulfillment of life. As James Baldwin says: "It is a terrible, an inexorable law that one cannot deny the humanity of another without diminishing one's own; in the face of one's victim, one sees oneself."

Diane Eshin Rizzetto, Waking Up to What You Do