Two days ago, I read a thought-provoking article about the strategy (or one of them) that Dr. Seuss used to create his work. He was challenged (it was a $50 bet in fact) to write a kids’ book using only 50 words that a grade 1 student would understand and handle with ease. Green Eggs and Ham was born and if you haven’t read it yet, please do today because that it will make your day, and beyond. It has rhyme, reason (obviously) and quirkiness galore.
When the boys were little, we collected and read as much Dr. Seuss as we could. Quirky and funny and rolling off the tongue is the recipe for what children like in a book and parents can read many, many times over without wanting to tear their hair out of sheer boredom. Not with Dr. Seuss’s books. A healthy side-effect: They incited the boys to want to read by themselves. Just to have that silly rumble of words come out of their mouths instead of mine.
So that was fun and all, but then we discovered The Lorax. Again, if you haven’t read it, please please do. Even if you don’t like Dr. Seuss’s style (really?) this book has its place in so many categories we ought to pay attention to right now. I read it with the boys until I got… nope, never got sick of it. It’s a story and it’s a warning and it’s the saddest, yet most inspiring call to action ever. To pay attention to our world and save it that is. It was written back in 1971 and Dr. Seuss wrote it because he was upset about how polluted the world was getting. Ha! What would he say now?
The Lorax himself would be appalled if he stepped into any retail store and saw the abundance of useless merchandise. Presently, it’s about Halloween, but on November 1st we will hear Jingle Bells and see them too. Any occasion to sell stuff reaches the scale of a national holiday, or so it looks like from the rivers of plastic this and that and strange-artificial-material this and that.
How will this river of uselessness ever change its flow volume, or dry up altogether, because really, it is mostly useless, throwaway items anyway, if people keep on buying? And if you think, like I did three days ago when I was looking for a couple of wool socks, that you are not giving into it so it’s for naught, think again. Many cannot resist the marketing ploys designed to make them buy and walk out of the store with armfuls of decorations, gifts and …nothingness. But that nothingness has a steep environmental price. It’s a Trojan horse that adds to our tab, every single day.
So when Dr. Seuss envisioned The Onceler (please read the book!) talking about how the useless merchandise he will create out of natural resources will appeal to people and they will keep on buying as if in a trance… how did he know? How could we avoid seeing it?
We’re right inside the book, and the Loraxes are popping up everywhere (here on this blog included) but the question is: how do you turn a tide so big? Most of us know about plastic pollution and how by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish; species are disappearing as we speak; more greenhouse gases make their way into the atmosphere though we know how bad that is; we know that we are running out of space to deposit our garbage which is electronic garbage too and food, lots of it; we know excess makes people waste more; we know, or in theory we know though we avoid facing it, that the tipping point is…with utmost sad cheekiness I’d say it is not far but the most important question remains: is it past us or are we still rolling towards it? Guess.
It is overwhelming, you are right. And turning the tide might or might not happen in time. But doing something because we care, no matter how small the deed, creates hope and purpose (though, to be fair, it might not save the world.)
You know that question, ‘How do you eat an elephant?’ and the answer is one bite at a time. Some think the question is more like ‘How do you eat a s%^t sandwich’, which is way more appropriate for our discussion here and for the mess we’re in. Plus, the elephant, we should really not even joke about causing harm to an elephant, given the sad and imminent human-caused disappearance of these beautiful and remarkably social animals. So yes, the s%^t sandwich. It’s high time we stop loading it with even more filling, and instead dispose of the mess we’ve already got plenty of.
Dr. Seuss’s Lorax would approve; the Onceler too.