A Person’s A Person, No Matter How Small.
How Dr. Seuss taught me everything I need to know about Ferguson, Syria, Iraq and Gaza.
Tonight, I was putting my daughter to bed and reading her a book. I happened to pick up Horton Hears a Who! and it fit the news I’ve been thinking about for the past week or two. The shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, the persecution and murder of minorities in Iraq and Syria, and the bombing of homes and towns in Gaza that caused the deaths of four hundred and thirty children and at least a thousand adult civilians.
There’s no way to improve his words, so I’ll just turn it over to Dr. Seuss.
“I’ve never heard tell
Of a small speck of dust that is able to yell.
So you know what I think?… Why I think that there must
Be someone on top of that small speck of dust!
Some sort of a creature of very small size,
Too small to be seen by an elephant’s eye
some poor little person who’s shaking with fear
That he’ll blow in the pool! He has no way to steer!
I’ll just have to save him. Because, after all,
A person’s a person, no matter how small.”
I can’t let my very small persons get drowned!
I’ve got to protect them. I’m bigger than they.
“Should I put this speck down?…” Horton though with alarm.
“If I do, these small persons may come to great harm.
I can’t put it down. And I won’t! After all
A person’s a person. No matter how small.”
“… a family, for all that we know!
A family with children just starting to grow.
So, please,” Horton said, “as a favor to me,
Try not to disturb them. Just please let them be.”
All that late afternoon and far into the night
That black-bottomed bird flapped his wings in fast flight,
While Horton chased after, with groans, over stones
That tattered his toenails and battered his bones,
And begged, “Please don’t harm all my little folks, who
Have as much right to live as us bigger folks do!”
They beat him! They mauled him! They started to haul
Him into the cage! But he managed to call
To the mayor: “Don’t give up! I believe in you all!
A person’s a person, no matter how small!
And you very small persons will not have to die
If you make yourselves heard! So come on, now and TRY!”
And that Yopp…
That one small, extra Yopp put it over!
Finally at last! From that speck on that clover
Their voices were heard! They rang out clear and clean.
And the elephant smiled. “Do you see what I mean? …
They proved they ARE persons, no matter how small.
And their whole world was saved by the Smallest of All!”
Theodor Seuss Geisel wrote Horton Hears a Who! after a visit to post-war Japan that changed his mind on how the US should treat Japanese reconstruction.
I wish all our kids aspire to be Hortons when they get big and the lad who said Yopp while they are little.