"A chicken delivered a 'fowl' message to a student apartment Saturday." That's how the article by Nate Sunderland from East Idaho News starts. And it's not surprising. You expect a pun or punchline after reading a headline about a chicken being thrown into an apartment of female BYU-I students.
And yes, much about the story is comical. A live farm animal was literally thrown into an apartment with a note attached to it—just like we all stepped back into the Middle Ages when people used to deliver messages using birds.
The most ironic part of all was that the note attached—which was rude and insulting—got thrown into the wrong apartment, and now the students in the apartment have decided to keep the chicken until they can give it away on Facebook.
While there is so much that is funny about this situation—not to mention silly and delightfully ironic—we still need to remember the fact that someone used a live animal to haze another student. And then there is also the fact that at a school made up predominantly of Mormons, students are acting like children to deliver a nasty, anonymous note.
I think a story like this, more than giving us a chuckle, can give us a bit of a gut check. While I am the first to admit I love pranks, jokes, and a little bit of fun mischief, I know there can be a thin line between having a laugh and hurting another.
Recently, at the BYU-H graduation, Elder Dallin H. Oaks reminded us that we are surrounded by "ugly innuendos," false information, and rude online comments. “I am not referring to difference in policies, which need to be debated publicly, but to the current ugliness and personal meanness of the communications,” he said. “Don’t be part of such communications. As followers of Christ we know that all of the inhabitants of this earth are children of God. Use that knowledge to push back against the worldly prejudices that preach hate or hostility . . ."
But being disciples of Christ is about more than just restraining ourselves from saying something negative or rude. Elder Holland, in April 2007 general conference, shared, "In this long eternal quest to be more like our Savior, may we try to be 'perfect' men and women in at least this one way now—by offending not in word, or more positively put, by speaking with a new tongue, the tongue of angels. Our words, like our deeds, should be filled with faith and hope and charity."
So let this little, silly story about a chicken remind us that, as the world is filled with more and more words of criticism and hatred, we should strive to fill it with words of hope and love. And if we do that, we will have more happiness and laughter in our lives.
As President Gordon B. Hinckley said, "I plead with you to control your tempers, to put a smile upon your faces, which will erase anger; speak out with words of love and peace, appreciation, and respect. If you will do this, your lives will be without regret. Your marriages and family relationships will be preserved. You will be much happier. You will do greater good. You will feel a sense of peace that will be wonderful."