“If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all” – Thumper (Bambi, 1942)
This line from Bambi has likely become one of the most well known movie lines in history, and honestly, as the days of my life have passed, I have had it run through my mind many times. But why? What could it possibly mean?
Well, we could recap why Thumper was saying it in the first place…that is, to share that it’s not nice to say hateful and hurtful things to others. We could go on and on about things we learn growing up, but the reality is that I am starting to realize the power of this statement. What does it mean to say something nice, or not say anything at all?
As I have thought about this recently, the thing that has continued to come to mind with this is the Golden Rule…”Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This is based in the words of Christ we find in Matthew 7:12, “Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” But how do those go together? How does that work?
It all goes back to love…simple love. The scripture reminds us that God is love…it reminds us to love God and love people…it reminds us of God’s love for each of us. In fact, the central theme of the story called life is LOVE. So how does all this work together? Let me explain:
If we love each other the way that Christ loves us, we will choose service over self; we will deny ourselves and love so much it hurts….this will include our actions and our speech. One of the things that I think we can remember is that we should taste our words before we spit them out….we should think about what we are about to say and think of how that same statement might feel if it were directed at us.
But this can reach farther….maybe even into our Social Media age as essentially the statement, “Think before you post.” Think about the things you are saying and how you are saying it….but also who you are attacking publically, because what if you were on the other end? What if you were the one being publically shamed because of what might turn out to be a small misunderstanding? Once things are said and out there, they cannot be taken back…. And I won’t even begin to talk about political posts…that is for another time, place, and author to tackle.
But what about the times that Jesus called out the Pharisees? Or when Paul called out the religious leaders? They said things that were not exactly considered nice. Let me remind you that those statements that they made were rooted in Love and not from a voice of hatred…the truth told in love is the nice way of saying things. The truth over a lie will always be the nice way, because lies destroy trust.
Love one another as Christ has loved you today….show that love in everything you do…in fact, one of the simplest ways to start is simply this: “Be Like Thumper.”
If you can’t say something nice, loving, up-building, respectful….really, don’t say anything at all.