A Person’s a Person

When my children were small, I used to read Dr. Suess stories to them. We all enjoyed them immensely, and I must confess that I probably enjoyed them most of all. The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins; Oh, Say Can You Say; McGillicot's Pool; One Fish, Two Fish, and The Cat in the Hat series were among our nightly treats.

There is something magical about holding a little one in your lap and reading lines like, "who knows what you'll find in McGillicot's Pool?" or "Do you like Green Eggs and Ham?"  Dr. Suess — his real name was Theodor Geisel — had a gift of storytelling that gave us a wonderful way of looking at the world.

Perhaps my very favorite was Horton Hears a Who. It's the story of a loveable elephant named Horton who hears first one small voice, and later many voices, from a speck of dust, and then risks his own life defending the little world of "Whos" that live on that tiny speck. Lots of characters come to kill the speck and deny its existence, turning their venom eventually toward Horton himself. Other jungle citizens try to boil the speck, smash it, and "dunk that dumb speck in the Beezle-Nut juice!" They couldn't hear the Whos yelling, "We're here!"

My children always got wide-eyed at the fervent desire of the Kangaroo and the Wickersham Gang to hurt Horton and smash the people he protected. And my kids clapped with glee when under Horton's encouragement, the Whos finally made enough noise to be heard. To their dismay, those bent on Horton and the Whos' destruction began to hear what Horton had been hearing all along: that "a person's a person, no matter how small."

 These are the thoughts that occupy my mind as we pass the horrible anniversary of the tragic decision by the United States Supreme Court to declare that infants in the womb are not people and can be disposed of at will. I know that many good people stand in for Horton and declare with their words and their marches across America that "a person's a person, no matter how small." If only we had the same solution as Horton, to allow our infants to scream, "We're here!" at the top of their lungs and enable those who mean to kill them to hear their small voices.

But that is fantasy; infants are "Whos" who cannot speak for themselves, so we must, speak for them. 

We must speak for the pre-born children with our voices, with our bodies, with our prayers, and with our wallets. Walk for them, write for them, let their voices be heard. We must speak for their mothers and fathers as well, for their pain is not often acknowledged. The scourge of abortion injures everyone it touches. Whatever the case, infant and adult, parent and child, embryo and aged, we must remember that these are people. Human beings deserve to be loved, respected, and granted their God-given dignity. They deserve to live.

It is a great sadness that 40,000,000 human beings have been murdered in the United States alone since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalized their killing. How many "Whos" are missing from our schools, workplaces, and families? How much longer will this go on?

Dr. Suess's words are more eloquent than mine, and so I leave you with them in anticipation that the happy ending of the book will give you hope in a happy ending and encouragement to march resolutely toward the light. Be a Horton to those "Whos" who need you so very badly. If you listen very carefully, you might hear those blessed innocents say, "We're here!"

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've proved they ARE persons, no matter how small.
And their whole world was saved by the smallest of All!"

"How true! Yes, how true," said the big kangaroo.
"And, from now on, you know what I'm planning to do?…
From now on, I'm going to protect them with you!"
And the young kangaroo in her pouch said,"…ME, TOO!"
"From the sun in the summer. From rain when it's fall-ish,
I'm going to protect them. No matter how small-ish!"

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  • Guest

    “How true! Yes, how true,”

    Ya gotta love that Dr. Seuss.

    however, one can’t extend the gift he was given to the author himself, Ted Giesel, or his heirs. You may have read the following:

    The book (most notably Horton’s recurring phrase “a person’s a person, no matter how small”) has found its way to the center of the recurring debate over abortion. Several pro-life groups have adopted the phrase in support of their views; the American Life League has even published a pamphlet using the phrase as the title. This has brought sharp criticism from Dr. Seuss’ widow, Audrey Geisel (who is strongly pro-choice), and at least one lawsuit was filed in Canada in 2001 to stop the use of the phrase. Before his death, Seuss himself threatened to sue a pro-life group for using the phrase.

    The bolded type above is referring to an interview by Amanda Smith from “This is Book Talk” on Radio National with Philip Nel, who’s the author of “Dr Seuss – American Icon.”

    Angels fly because they take themselves lightly.
    G.K. Chesterton

  • Guest

    How sad that Dr. Seuss and his widow are so hypocritical to support abortion despite the pro-life message of this book.

  • Guest

    It is sad, though not surprising, to see that Ted Giesel was not pro life. He had no children and if I remember his biography correctly he was somewhat afraid of them. It matters not if Giesel had a pro-life vision when writing Horton, the message is clear and needs to be proclaimed. Mickey Addison is right we need to be the voice for the voiceless.

  • Guest

    God writes straight with crooked lines.

    When Caiaphas, the high priest who handed over Jesus said, “It is better that one man should die in order to save the nation,” he was not thinking about the salvific merits of the passion and death of Jesus. But he was nevertheless prophetic.

    Sometimes God puts the truth in the mouth of a prophet in a way even the prophet doesn’t understand it.

  • Guest

    After spending about 1 month in Geisel territory this past December (La Jolla, CA) and visiting the Geisel Library over 10 times on the UCSD campus, we got a much better picture of who he was. I guess with anyone, the harder you look, the more you find – good and bad. To many, he was a weird dude. But we can take his words and use them where they apply – in this case making a case for protecting those not able to protect themselves. It seems like the poem makes a strong case for that. I don’t believe abortion foes distort or defame the poem. I guess if it were me, I’d be thrilled if a group chose my poem to highlight the need to protect those unable to protect themselves.

  • Guest

    Not only the pro-life message, but ironically, the Eucharistic theme comes through loud and clear, especially in the play based upon the Horton books. I saw it last year and was just amazed. Truly we have a hidden God…and yet there He is, in plain sight.