“The Lorax” written in 1971, was Dr. Seuss’ personal favorite. Of all Dr. Seuss books, “The Lorax” is the most strident and most thinly veiled allegory, and its message, both to big business and young readers, is crystal clear.
The fable looks at an industrialized society and the danger it poses to nature. For historical perspective, the book was written in the same year as the founding of Greenpeace and within months of Nixon forming the EPA. I was then the same age my two little girls are now.
The story follows a 12-year-old boy who searches for the one thing that will enable him to win the affection of the girl of his dreams. To find it, he must discover the story of the Lorax, the grumpy yet charming creature who fights to protect his world. Emerging from a chopped down Truffula tree, the Lorax uses this soapbox to encourage the Once-ler to stop cutting down trees to make Thneeds, things that everyone needs.
When the Once-ler first arrives in the forest of Truffula trees he calls it a glorious place, and evokes images of paradise. In the manufacturing of Thneeds, the Once-ler consumers all the natural resources with no concern for reforestation.
“I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues,” pontificates the Lorax. The Lorax is a role model, demonstrating that anyone can speak out and champion an issue.
I recently visited the Back Bay where “Inside the Outdoors” was teaching youth about the environment. “Animals have three choices,” shares the teacher. “Adapt, move, or die.”
The Lorax understood this. The Bar-ba-loots had crummies in their tummies, so the Lorax sent them away.
The power and passion with which the Lorax argues indicates the tone that one should use when championing the environment, a park, firepits, Ronald Reagan statues, trees, boats, coastal views or fill in the blank.
When the boy reaches the Once-ler, long after the Lorax had left and the last Truffula tree had been chopped down, he sees the one thing the Lorax left behind. A small pile of rocks with a word carved into them: “UNLESS.”
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
Profound inspiration written by Dr. Seuss.
The Once-ler shared his story and gave the boy the last seed of the Truffula tree. It was not by chance that a child was entrusted with saving the environment.
I had the wonderful opportunity to see the movie “The Lorax” with my two little girls, in 3D. I have tried not to spoil the movie elements so you can experience them with your kids or grandkids. Just know that as in the written book, the movie entertains and informs.
I kept thinking of the image of the pile of rocks with “UNLESS” carved into one. The image of beach fire pits came to mind. And so many other opportunities to improve our community and fight for what we believe in. The book, and now the movie, are great to inspire us to action and to experience this action with a youthful generation. Apathy is kryptonite to a thriving community.
Leaving the theater, with glows on their faces, I asked them what they thought of the movie, what did they learn?
In an extremely proud Dad moment, “Daddy, I think you are a Lorax.”
Thank you, Dr Seuss, and happy birthday my childhood friend.
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