On the Fifteenth of May,
In the Jungle of Nool,
In the heat of the day,
In the cool of the pool,
He was splashing,
Enjoying the jungle’s great joys,
When Horton the Elephant heard a small noise.
I have always thought that Horton Hears a Who is the best of all the Seuss books. When the girls were little, we would read it as often as I could convince them to do so, and the old cartoon of it is a masterpiece of animated storytelling as far as I can tell. I even enjoyed the new movie version, which did a pretty good job of expanding such a short story into a two-hour film without losing sight of the main point of the book.
Because it is the main point of that book that makes the story so compelling.
Be kind to people.
There is nobody so small or so insignificant that they don’t deserve to be treated with respect, with dignity, and more than anything else with humanity. There is nobody so unlike us that this common humanity can be overwhelmed. There is no Other. There is only Us.
We forget this message all too often today.
We live in a world where it is considered a mark of savvy to dismiss those who do not look like us, think like us, act like us or want to be exactly like us. Such people, we are told, are not real. Not real Americans. Not real people. Not real.
We live in a world where it is acceptable to cheer for the death of others, where our those who would be our leaders are so morally bankrupt that they stand idly by and let it happen even on their own stage.
We live in a world where the idea of helping the less fortunate is considered un-American, where acknowledging that we’re all Americans and owe each other debts that need to be repaid is considered Socialist, where understanding that the world is bigger than the United States and does not necessarily have to cater to its whim is considered unpatriotic.
We live in a world of trash talk, trash sports, trash entertainment and far too much trash.
We live in a world of unrepentant cruelty.
But we don’t have to.
No, really, we don’t.
Horton doesn’t have to do what he did to protect the Whos. He was enjoying himself, there in the jungle, minding his own business, when someone reached out and asked for help. And he said yes.
And when the self-appointed guardians of morality and power told him not to help, he refused. When they forced him to struggle to keep his word, he struggled. When they threatened him, he remained obstinate. And he won.
Be kind to people, though all about you tell you otherwise.
Happy Horton Day!