Horton Hears the Truth
Theodor Seuss Geisel, otherwise known as Dr. Seuss, wrote many well-known children's books. Two of those books, "Horton Hatches an Egg" (1940) and "Horton Hears a Who" (1954), are often depicted as having a pro-life theme.
In his mind a man plans his course, but the Lord directs his steps Pr 16:9
People in favor of abortion argue that Theodor Geisel was not writing about babies in the womb when he wrote the books and that he had no intention of sending a pro-life message. In fact, it may surprise many people to know that Mr. Geisel may very well have been, himself, pro-choice. He didn't really speak out strongly about it one way or another while he was alive. I have read, however, that he was liberal in his thinking and that he didn't like that the pro-life movement was using the line "a person's a person no matter how small." It may be that he even threatened to sue a pro-life organization to stop them from using it on their stationary and letterhead. I have read some reports that his widow is pro-choice, has contributed to Planned Parenthood and doesn't like people to "hijack Dr. Seuss characters or material to front their points of view." Those in favor of abortion argue that this proves that the pro-life advocates are seeing a message that just isn't there and have hijacked the words of a dead man to promote their agenda. Regardless of what Mr. Geisel's intentions were, or what he thought, or what his political views were; regardless of what his widow says or does; regardless of what the pro-abortion side says; somehow some way an undeniable pro-life message comes out in these stories. I think that the pro-abortion believers see it, they know it too. Otherwise they would not work so hard to ridicule and negate the very idea of it.
Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the decision of the Lord that endures Pr 19:21
These books were written in the 1940's and 50's. They were written before Roe v Wade, before many of the arguments that are being made now, before personhood was so redefined, and before women and mothers became so resistant to life in the womb. Theodor Geisel didn't know about a lot of these events until after he wrote the books. He did not deliberately write about them. Some pro-lifers see some prophetic correlations between how these things happened and the characters and events in the book. Maybe so. But that doesn't matter so much. What matters is that children are the ones who read these books or are listening to them. The children don't really care what the author's intentions were, what his true feelings were or his political views. Children don't care who his wife contributes to. They don't even know who Theodor Geisel is. Children don't care about redefining personhood. They don't care about agendas. And quite frankly, children probably won't pick up on prophetic symbolism. What matters to these children is Horton the elephant. What they will take from this story is what they see in Horton, and the other characters, based on what those characters do and say.
So what do we learn from Horton and his story? One thing for sure, is that Horton is faithful. Horton is faithful in keeping his promises. Horton is faithful to what he knows to be the truth. Despite ridicule, opposition, hardship and risks to his life and well-being, he takes and keeps his stand.
I meant what I said/ and I said what I meant/ an elephant's faithful one hundred percent
This is the most memorable line from the earlier book, "Horton Hatches an Egg." The truth that Horton stands for in this story, is his commitment to sit on an egg. He doesn't sign up for the long term, He only agrees to something temporary. Even when it doesn't turn out how he thought he will not abandon the egg, an egg that is not yet born but is waiting to be born. It doesn't matter that things aren't how he thought they should be. It doesn't matter what other people think or say about him. It doesn't matter if he suffers hardship, misery or threats to his life. It doesn't matter that he does not get to control his own life. It doesn't matter that the mother of the egg didn't keep her promise to return or whether or not she deserves to be helped. He cannot, he will not, abandon the egg but protects it and nurtures it.
In "Horton Hears a Who", Horton the elephant becomes aware that there is life on a speck of dust. They are Whos and they are small and helpless. They cannot steer their world, they are not in control, but are at the mercy of others. Horton decides to help them and protect them. The rest of the world will not believe Horton because if they cannot see them or hear them they must not be there. Yet even so, they decide to destroy them. It is in this story that Horton says...I've got to protect them, I'm bigger than they...a person's a person no matter how small...please don't harm all my little folks who/ have as much right to live as us bigger folks do. Horton goes to the greatest lengths and exhibits the greatest determination in helping the Whos. Children reading or listening to the story, know what Horton knows. They know that it is true that there is life on the speck. So when someone says...Please get rid of this thing...children know that it is not a thing there, but Who's there. Persons are there. The matter even ends up in court where they refuse to acknowledge the life on the speck, despite Horton's pleas that it is clear as a bell. The Whos must make themselves known to prove their existence. Don't give up/ I believe in you all, says Horton, 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 please try. The Whos do try, do try making all the noise they can make and shouting, We are here! It is not enough until one more voice is added, that voice from the smallest of the small. Had the voice not been there, their world would have been destroyed. But because of the voice of the smallest of the small the Whos are heard and acknowledged.
Seussical the Musical, is a stage adaptation that combines both stories along with many other Seuss characters. There are some additional lines here as well as additional concepts. An unusual story will soon be unfurled/ of an elephant trying to save a small world/ and a boy from the world who has thinks just like you. The idea of thinks, their potential and possibilities are added. In the end it is a think, as well as a voice, that saves the world. Then there is a line...we are whos here/ we can bruise here/ helpless, weak and small. And when the Whos have to make themselves known, to hear that shout in a chorus is much more real.
The children who read and hear these stories are going to care about Horton, that egg, and those Whos. Quite frankly, Horton is pro-life. He protects and nurtures life, he advocates for life, he tries to make sure that its voice can be heard even when it cannot be seen and is not being acknowledged. His greatest regard and concern is for them over himself. Children will hear that voice regardless of what anyone intended and regardless of what we say. Children sometimes see truth in the simplest terms and don't understand rhetoric that tries to redefine it. Children are who will be making these decisions in the future.
So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it. Is 55:11
I could go on to highlight more that is about life in these stories but my point is not really to write a pro-life review of them. My point is not even to recommend these stories for our children. My point is that sometimes something is just true. That truth will shine through no matter what anybody's original intention was. It can shine through no matter what arguments we make for or against it or how we try to spin it. Just as it has in these stories. Sometimes God inspires someone to tell a truth and they tell it, even when their intention was to just tell a good story.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways my ways, says the Lord.
As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts. Is 55:8-9
God thinks thinks, but his thinks are not at all like our thinks. His thinks are beyond any think we could think. He inspires a man to think a true think. To take that think and just write that think. The man may not think that it's a true God think, but only that it is a really good think. He writes his think and we read his think and somehow the world starts to think better thinks.
And what was this think that is true for us all? A person's a person no matter how small. Because they are whos and not whats after all. "We are here! We are here! We are here!" is their call.
Horton hears truth, and tells it as well. A truth that soon all, may be willing to tell.
Then the Lord said to me; Well have you seen, for I am watching to fulfill my word. Jer 1:12