I’ll never forget the day Dr. Hobbs brought in the movie The Lorax and showed it to us. I was flabbergasted… Dr. Seuss had a book I’d never heard of? There was an accompanying movie? And in the course of 30 minutes I fell head over heels in love with that furry little creature with the largest handlebar mustache the planet has ever seen. And as the Lorax lifted himself away from the decimated land the Onceler had destroyed with his Thneed factory, his departure and the sad backward glance he gave the Onceler left me a blubbery, sloppy mess trying to hide the fact that my heart was bleeding as openly as my eyes were shedding tears. It’s a little embarrassing to start crying in the middle of college freshman biology, you know.
Through the years, I’ve read the Dr. Seuss book to my kids over and over again. I read it with a conflict in my heart. On the one hand, I side with the Oncler… he does have his rights and yes “business is business! And business must grow….” I live in and daily reap the benefits of a capitalist society. I rather like the notion of limited government and the “survival of the fittest” mentality that allows creativity and expansion. Where in the world would we be without people living out big dreams, without enterprise, without something better toward which to strive? Would Steve Jobs have had as large an influence on the world of technology if, say, he lived in communist China or even socialist Europe?*
On the other hand, the sad plight of the Brown Bar-ba-loots and the Humming-Fish and the Swomee-Swans as their habitats are systematically destroyed breaks my heart. I get the message of responsible stewardship of land, air, and water. And I can see how some would take Dr. Seuss’ message as completely anti-big-business. There are those who stop at nothing to widen the profit margin at the expense of people and places. They ruin it for the rest of us.
When I read this book with the kids, I hope they take away the responsible stewardship message more than the anti-big-business message. And I think they do. In fact, the Lorax leaves a message, the one I think Dr. Seuss really intended for us to take away from the book: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” Yet, when I saw that Hollywood was making a new movie version of the story, I was skeptical. The kids were so excited to see it, and I was apprehensive. What kind of political spin will the creators take? How bad are they going to make business? Will my kids walk out of the movie spewing a loathing for business that came from a subconscious-level indoctrination? Like a word written in a cloud (Aladdin) or a ”ghost” hiding behind a curtain (3 Men and a Baby), what values would the movie subconsciously instill? Am I the only person out there that has these thoughts?
WELL. We went to see the movie. And it was fabulously fun. Brightly colored, engaging, with an appropriate amount of suspense and comedy, and toward the end I nearly jumped out of my seat in excitement. The Onceler is getting ready to hand the Truffula tree seed to Ted and he says, “It may seem small and insignificant. It’s not about what it is. It’s about what it can become.” Perfect! That’s a message I want my kids to take away. Even the smallest act of goodness and kindness can become so much larger.
Have you seen the Joseph Kony youtube video made by Invisible Children? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4MnpzG5Sqc&feature=share) Their message is similar… the power of one small, seemingly insignificant video that may just lead to the arrest of the world’s worst, the man responsible for the abduction of 1000s of children across Uganda, for turning the girls into sex slaves and the boys into child soldiers. Will this video create enough global focus to lead to the arrest of Joseph Kony? At the time of publishing this blog, over 76 million people have viewed the video. Will that force, will that knowledge lead to the outcome for which Invisible Children is striving? It seems small now but what does it have the potential to become? And how will this social justice movement shape and influence other like movements?
Where will a cup of Compassion Tea lead? One order of Compassion Tea, one cup of tea, may seem small and insignificant. But what can it become? A pill to stop a parasite, a medicine to relieve malaria, a pair of eyeglasses for someone who can’t see, or a shot of novocaine to make the necessary dental work more doable, maybe a pile of bandages to stop the bleeding feet or the raw, open wound on the back of the neck, antibiotics for pneumonia, a nurse’s kind touch, a psychologist visiting, a doctor finally explaining what is wrong… in short, that cup of tea becomes hope. And hope is a very powerful thing. We don’t completely know the end of the story. But won’t it be fun to watch!

*My views are not necessarily those of the rest of the Compassion Tea team regarding politics.

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