#87 – Accuse one who is present (Αιτιω παροντα)

The very heart of our legal system is based on this Maxim. But, it is more than just a legalistic formula as the Maxims are rarely simply about something in the narrow sense of the word but apply to broad areas of our lives. Gossip is a form of accusation of someone who is not present, just as is hearsay evidence in a court of law, and is more prevalent than I would like to think. We have the right to face our accusers, but when people gossip we lose that right.
If we are to maintain our integrity and be able to help others judge justly (as the Maxim “Make just judgments” would have us do) we MUST only accuse someone of crimes when they are there to defend themselves and can answer the accusation. We must accuse from fact and direct experience – not from supposition and rumor. This is not a comforting thing for us as many times we do not think about gossiping when we are doing it. This Maxim demands that we be aware of what we are doing and saying at all times. It demands that we be accountable for our speech. And, it demands that we do what is in our power to keep this in our minds and the minds of others like all of the Maxims do.

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