Say something beautiful, or be quiet


I passed 2 of these bikes on my way into work today. Painted a bright and vibrant pink, the seat says “Say something beautiful, or be quiet”.

It would be easy to dismiss this as a piece of attention-seeking performance art, but as I walk towards the city of London – where oftentimes cruel ambition is rewarded and ugliness found in the lines of our media and make-up – it feels like a message.

How often do we say beautiful things between the hours of 9, 5 and every minute we travel to and from them? What is beautiful even about what we do?

I’m no fan of pink and I do not cycle (out of respect to other road users), but if it takes a begarlanded and spray-painted bike to remind me that what I say is important, I am thankful for that.

James took the negative perspective:

The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. (James 3:6-9)

How much better to take the higher ground, to see the tongue, to see speech as something beautiful. Perhaps James should have encouraged us to praise others, to see and remark on beauty, to take each moment we have to speak as an opportunity to bring positive force and change to the world.

I see etched in the faces around me on the bus and on the tube fierceness, resignation, weariness, not enough peace, contentment, excitement. But how likely is that to be? Work is a part of life and it is rarely a place for beauty.


One thought on “Say something beautiful, or be quiet

  1. I think one of the really great gifts that one human being can give to another is to say something beautiful – especially the words “I love you” (if they are meant!).

    Have you been watching “Blitz Street” on Channel 4? What really struck me about that was how incredibly important were the words that Winston Churchill spoke to the people of Britain in that terrible time. Were they beautiful? Some were. Certainly they were powerful.

    I would set James’ comments in the context of Jesus sending out the seventy and telling them to bless the people they stayed with. Clearly Jesus considered words of blessing to have a metaphysical quality – once uttered they took on a life of their own. Their power was such that they could be treated as a physical gift: given or withheld.

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