If you can’t say somethin’ nice…

Thumper had a hard time remembering his dad’s advice, but he got it in the end. And it’s advice that holds its value through the years.

While living hard against the north foothills of Salt Lake City, I would walk out my back door almost every day and hike into the mountains, often up City Creek Canyon. If you go past the water purification plant as far as the road will take you, you will encounter Rotary Park, dedicated to Marion Duff Hanks who was a prominent Rotarian and a General Authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Featured centrally in the dedication is the Rotarian 4-way Test of any principle:

  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  3. Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

Bernard Meltzer is credited with something similar with regards to the spoken word:

“Before you speak ask yourself if what you are going to say is true, is kind, is necessary, is helpful. If the answer is no, maybe what you are about to say should be left unsaid.”

The Greeks have a proverb which I first learned from my wonderful modern Greek professor at the University of Utah, Bill Cocorinis:

“Η γλώσσα κόκαλα δεν έχει και κόκαλα τσακίζει” (I glossa kokala then exi kai kokala tsakizi), which means “the tongue has no bones, but it breaks bones.)

Whoever coined the old saying about sticks and stones was trying to make a legitimate point, but it’s not universally applicable: words can hurt far worse than sticks and stones, and the damage they can cause can last long after broken bones have healed. The scars from verbal abuse and bullying can last a lifetime.

The name of this blog is taken from a concept promoted by R. Buckminster Fuller which came to be called, in its simplest form, The World Game. It deals with building a better world, or in his own words,

“Make the world work, for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone.”

-R. Buckminster Fuller

John Denver incorporated this concept in his eponymous song:

I want to play in the World Game
I want to make it better it’s ever been before
I want to play in the World Game
I want to make sure everybody knows the score
About using less, doing so much more

John Denver, from the album “It’s About Time” – Sony Music Entertainment

So to you, to me, to all of us – let’s do our best to keep our words soft and sweet, because in the words of Andy Rooney, we never know when we may have to eat them.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

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