Dumbo: The Meanness of People
Dumbo is one of the most heart-tugging of Disney’s animated features. Maybe it’s because I’m an only child. Maybe it’s because I never really fit in with most of my peers. Maybe it’s because I have a soft spot for animals—even animated ones. But whatever the reason, Dumbo touches me.
Some of the scenes that get to me the most are the ones in which either Dumbo or Mrs. Jumbo (his mother) are being mocked, taunted, or ridiculed by other members of the circus. The other elephants and the clowns are merciless to these two. It’s only when Dumbo proves to them, and the ringmaster, that his “weirdness” is actually valuable that they respect them.
This doesn’t surprise me, though. We see it all the time in the real world. I know several people—some of whom I highly respect—who believe that people are basically good and will do what’s right. The bad ones are an anomaly and we can generally expect the best from people. I think they’re wrong.
Of course, what I think doesn’t really matter. What does the Bible say?
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
“The hearts of men, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead.” (Ecclesiastes 9:3)
There are other passages, but hopefully these make the point. In our natural state, we are not good people. We are deceitful, cruel, selfish, arrogant, envious, and more. I do not expect the best from people as a whole, because people as a whole are not capable of the best. Sure, we have our few shining moments, but they stand out as remarkable because they are so rare.
Not very uplifting, is it? Unfortunately, it’s the way the world is right now. … But it’s not how everyone has to be.
“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
As Christians, we have the power, through the Holy Spirit, to choose not to be that way. It’s not easy, and we won’t be successful 100% of the time this side of Heaven, but we can grow. We’re expected and even commanded to grow.
We see the elephants and the clowns in Dumbo and we’re outraged at their attitudes and behavior. Our hearts hurt for Dumbo and Mrs. Jumbo. Why? Because we see ourselves on both sides. You’ve been the one who is scornful, hurtful, and malicious. You’re reminded of who you were, and who you still have a tendency to be. And you’ve been the one who was the object of ridicule, spite, and even hatred.
There is always someone on your side, strengthening you against the attacks of others and reminding you that you now have the power not to attack (actively or passively) others yourself. Sometimes that person is a friend who stands with you, like Timothy Mouse was to Dumbo. Sometimes that Person is God Himself, as the Holy Spirit living within you.
Dumbo is a reminder that the world is a cruel place, filled with people who are more interested in their own interests than in helping others…and that you used to be one of them, and so did I. But you don’t have to be that way. You can choose to rise above, through the power of God and claiming your new Kingdom Identity in Him.
Question: As you look back over the last few months or years, do you see that you’ve grown in how you relate to others? You may not be who you want to be, but thank God you’re also not who you used to be! Talk about it in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.