We were lucky enough to see The Lorax this weekend. While it did open this weekend and many, many people got to see it, our viewing was a very special event. We were visiting our grandparents and cousins out-of-state and were invited to join our cousin’s Cub Scout pack for a special screening. It turns out that the town is so small that the theatre had to get the movie from another town and had permission to use it for only a matter of hours. We actually saw the theatre owners put the giant reel in their van to take back. It was amazing to feel like we were let in on such a special secret, such an exclusive opportunity. While yes, we could have carted the kids to a bigger town and felt like part of the general public, it was awesome to see what lengths a small town mom-and-pop joint used to ensure that kids in their town didn’t get to miss an opportunity. It was powerful to see what trouble they had experienced to make that screening happen - especially since it was very inexpensive and included popcorn & drink for every kid. They put their time and their money where their mouth was.
So the movie was AWESOME. It was very powerful. The themes are not new, and certainly not the story (published 1971). The use of musical numbers to make a point is not novel either, but the movie was GREAT. Even my husband was in tears at the end (don’t tell him I saw!). The message of stewardship for our earth was clear (as Wikipedia reports is the point) and accurate. A good look at history will show you that industrialism has taken its resources for granted – often. Whether it’s taking the viewpoint that natural resources and raw materials are endless or taking advantage of the workforce, Industrialism, and the industrial economy system tends to lead to excessivism and callousness. The whole idea of a market economy is that the balance is reached after the demand has been exceeded. We have seen this cycle repeated since the Age of Exploration – tribes in Africa stealing members from each other to be sold into a global workforce that grew and processed sugar on plantations that drove local peoples and ecosystems into extinction, master workmen driven to abandon expertise for interchangeable parts, turn-of-the-century industrialists consolidating businesses vertically and/ or horizontally so that economies-of-scale would allow volume to turn profit even when underselling… the Roaring Twenties boom had to be evened out by the Great Depression, an economic “depression” that reflected industry’s (Wall Street’s) excess “greed” and overextension of natural resources (Dust Bowl) making a depression in our hearts and souls as well as our pocketbooks (ensuring I come from a long and honorable line of hoarders – waste not, want not).
The modern age has conversations about these concerns, sure, and has found improved ways to address some of them. The 4-H was established as the arm of the USDA to bring “scientific health” back to farming practices (but not stop cash crop farming…), and the Scouting movements (established 1910 and 1912) were designed to combat the moral starvation of a youth left unable to contribute to their family’s economies (child labor laws and white collar work left children with out a role in society). The Lorax was written at the height of environmentalism, when we finally began entertaining a public discourse on what our stewardship responsibilities really are in this industrial economy. Forests do need to be replanted, and harvested carefully. The trade off between the value of a raw material and the impact of collecting it need to be weighed thoughtfully (which the mining industry is doing). I would argue that the current “Occupy” movement relates directly to the 9-11 terror attacks that saw the middle class (white collar workers) sacrificed (every individual lost was a person who had invested time and money into improving themselves, finding that exact niche that led them to that sought-after job. Yet they were all replaceable. Even
’s finest and
bravest have not been manned-down. Businesses
are not losing money; the city is still safe; how valuable were those lives? WARNING:
do NOT read into that statement – you don’t know what happened to me on that
day. When I get the strength to write
it, I’ll put up another post about it. I
only intend to make the reader think deeply.) New York
I think that we are approaching another point in history where we are looking in the mirrors and realizing that we are just specks, and we are trying to find significance. Modern discourse is full of it. We are all looking for the right labels to wear, whether they are racial or ethnic, or regional, or disabled. Lord knows my experience in the autism community has shown this. Lately the argument is what kind of autism you’ve got (the one comparing the Harry Potter jelly beans?). The parenting books are about Mean Girls, or Jocks, or Geeks, or whatever subset of cultural identification you remember from high school. Parents classify themselves as Soccer Moms, or Homeschoolers, or Warrior Parents, or Working Moms, or Single Parents, or Organic. Even in country music I have heard an effort to solidify that sense of identity and classification – Red Necks can be any working class person, Camouflage is the national color of the South, and country folks can survive (again, I will post more about this later – but I would argue that we have seen a growing dynamic between rural and urban America through this generation – it’s visible even in our electoral maps). We use these labels in our politics commonly, because democracy requires collectivism, but we don’t keep them there, we look for them in all aspects of our lives, and we ask our kids to too; its how modern culture works.
How is it that I am watching this movie about clear cutting forests and am moved to tears when we have stopped that practice and replanted them? We have been teaching for years that clear-cutting is evil – showing the burning in the Amazon by satellite when I was a kid, including environmental science in our curriculums (my 1st grade state standards this year include it), seeing it as I road tripped through the West and the South. What could have been in this movie that was powerful? The message in The Lorax seems to be clear, but like most Great Authors there is depth to Dr. Seuss’s message, and all the characters get to grow.
“Unless someone like you
Cares a whole awful lot,
It’s not going to get better.
No, it’s not”
This limerick says nothing about seeds or trees, or mystical creatures… it specifically talks about YOU CARING. It’s that simple, and that complicated. Who needs to do something? YOU. It starts with yourself, not with making someone else do it, not with watching someone else do it, not with “we all do it together”, YOU have to do it. The subject, the one committing the action has to be YOU. What is it that you need to do? CARE. The action verb here is CARE. The only qualification here is “a lot”. Not be empathetic, not walk away, not pretend you don’t know, not give up, but CARE DEEPLY. And what does caring a lot lead to? BETTER!
The place where contention comes up is the “what”, we argue incessantly about what you are supposed to care about. REALLY?! It can’t matter, because the subject is YOU, not me! Don’t you think that it is very likely that we truly ARE made with different gifts, with different abilities, with different passions for a reason? It is possible that I am the only one who is right, but it is far more likely that God made us each to be a different “part of the body of Christ”, a different piece of humanity, because
We only fit together when our shapes are different, not repetitive.
The call to action is: YOU CARE DEEPLY – live passionately in that thing that drives you to a passion. Surely God made YOU to do that job, to be the one who will fit that niche, to CARE enough to make it better! The differences are the Gift, the thing that lets you be the one whose caring makes it better!
There is CLEARLY still work to be done in the world! The Lorax shows that, not just with a Once-ler who saves a seed from a world he destroyed, but also the boy whose love for a girl is strong enough to drive him to fight the whole world for her dream. In the end of the movie, the characters sing about how they all agree to plant the seed, but each does so for a different reason! YOU CARE DEEPLY – that is your job, and when you care deeply for that thing that you are driven to care for, then Divine Will is met, and the Great Plan will come together, and we will ALL be glorified in our differences that create a whole! We all need someone to stand up to bullies, someone who is gifted at fixing machines, someone who is excellent at giving hugs, someone who makes us think really hard, someone to help us. Don’t you find that every person in your life offers you a different strength, a singular gift?
I am begging you, please care deeply, because unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, it’s not going to get better. No, it’s not.