Dr. Seuss’ character Horton the elephant in the book Horton Hears a Who! is a champion for equal rights. Horton’s mantra, “A person’s a person, no matter how small” seems tailored to fit the rights of the unborn human. However, Dr. Seuss did not write Horton Hears a Who! with commentary on the abortion issue in mind. It was written in 1953 after a trip to Japan, where he came to a realization that he harbored an unfair hatred like many for the Japanese after WWII, which contradicted the dignity every person deserves. The book is dedicated, “For My Great Friend, Mitsugi Nakamura of Kyoto, Japan.”
Theodor Seuss Geisel was known as a liberal democrat, though he never publicly shared his position on abortion. Depending on the source his widow or his foundation reportedly said that it is not right for pro-lifers to hijack his story for their own purposes. However, we are not hijacking his story, the story was written with human rights in mind. And abortion is the human rights issue of our time.
Horton, being an elephant, has very large ears and can hear the plight of the Whos when the kangaroo and other jungle creatures cannot. This reminds me of a song lyric, “For the Lord hears the cry of the poor.” In the case of the Whos who live on a speck of dust, no one can see them. But that doesn’t mean they don’t exist, some people cannot hear them, some people choose not to hear them. Horton hears their cry and at a great personal risk and expense protects them. He is the laughing stock of his community, but does not back down. He even tracks them relentlessly to ensure their protection after they are kidnapped, begging
“Please don’t harm all my little folks, who
Have as much right to live as us bigger folks do!”
Who are the poor? Can you see them? Do you hear them? It is much easier to deny they exist than to accept that you are perhaps blind and deaf to their needs. Is being pro-life just about speaking up for the unborn? Undeniably, the unborn and crisis mothers are in need of our attention and compassion. But in our calling to uphold the dignity of all life we must also minister to the hungry, the homeless, and the helpless. Isn’t it great to belong to the body of Christ? We are many parts, but we are all one body. I can use my unique gifts to actively protect the unborn, feed the hungry, and help the blind see. I can proudly know that there are other parts of the body, other people in my Catholic/Christian Community that minister to the poor in the many other necessary ways such as visiting the imprisoned, educating the unlearned, and caring for the sick and handicapped.
“Are you sure every Who down in Who-ville is working . . . is there anyone shirking?”
We need everyone in the body to do their part. As the Emperor in Disney’s Mulan said, “A single grain of rice could tip the scales.” You never know what difference one person can make. Or what ripples one small act can make. In the situation of a woman in a crisis pregnancy, sometimes all that woman needs to see is a small sign that she is not alone. Sometimes, that small sign is a person praying peacefully outside of the abortion facility rain, shine or snow. That is the opportunity and the hope that 40 Days for Life offers. And it is going on right now in 250 cities across America. It is a prayer vigil to save mothers, babies, and anyone else from the pain that comes from abortion and the culture of death. (Not familiar with 40 Days? See previous blogs or visit www.40DaysforLife.com)
“I think you’re a fool!” laughed the sour kangaroo .. You’re the biggest blame fool in the Jungle of Nool.”
Yes, it is true that not everyone has the gumption to participate in 40 Days for Life. Some think it is too bold, or too political, some think it doesn’t make a difference, a foolish waste of time. Some are fearful of what others may think. Some are “pro-life, but . . .” meaning they are pro-life personally, but have reservations about making it illegal. Some think we are foolish to even try to win this uphill battle that has already taken over 56 million American lives. But as Oscar Schindler said, “He who saves one life, saves the world entire.” If someone is hungry, what do you do? Do you pray for them or do you give them food? Someone is being deceived by the culture of death, and though we do pray for them, we also feel we should do more and are called to witness. We witness in front of the abortion facility to wake-up the conscience of the community and to encourage mothers not to let something inside of them die.
Fr. Frank Pavone once said, “It is not that our church is too political, it is that our politics are too pagan.” Our politics and also our culture hold “freedom” and tolerance in such high regard that we are free to commit every variety of sin, as long as it is marketed and sold that we aren’t hurting anyone. But those of us who have a conscience, believe in a difference between right and wrong and voice our opinions are labeled “judgmental” or my favorite, “ignorant.” Os Guiness said,
“In our day it is considered worse to judge evil than to do evil.”
It is hard not to come across as judgmental when sharing opinions on moral issues. We strive to judge principles not people! We cannot let ourselves be diluted into thinking that “being a good person” is enough. We can’t go about our business not seeing or hearing the plight of the little man. St. Catherine of Siena laughed at politicians in her day trying to separate church and state. She said they couldn’t be one person one day and another person the next. We have to live our values, not keep them ‘hidden under a bushel.’ So despite the wisdom that if you want to keep your friends you avoid conversations regarding religion and politics . . . I say “let it shine.” Be the light that leads our country out of darkness and eventually you will attract friends that share your same values.
So let’s not politicize Horton and his heroic story of standing up for the rights of the overlooked. But let’s not dismiss any of the current human rights issues of our time as political either. We need to look for and see, listen and hear the poor. And when we do take the time to seek out the least as Christ did we will see people we never saw before. People, not profits or policies, people. Thank you, Dr. Seuss for helping us to do that! Happy Birthday!