On the fifteenth of May
In the jungle of Nool
In the heat of the day
In the cool of the pool
He was splashing enjoying the jungle’s great joys
When Horton the elephant heard a small noise.
The story continues with Horton locating the sound—a small dust speck inhabited by a race of microscopic people (The Whos) who are floating by and in danger. He rescues the Whos and the town of Whoville by placing the speck on a soft clover and thereafter is mocked, ridiculed, teased and taunted and bullied as other members of the jungle call him a fool and plan to boil the speck in Beezlenut juice to prove that small insignificant creatures who they believe are all in Horton’s head don’t matter. He pleads with them that this race of people are alive and have feelings and families, but no one cares. Out of sight out of mind. They can’t see them so why should they care? Horton finally gets the Whos to make enough noise right before they are slaughtered and they are saved and every animal has a change of heart and agrees to protect them “no matter how small.”
This story had a huge impact on my life. I loved the plot of standing up for what you believe in even when others try to destroy your hope. When I was in High School I memorized the entire book for a speech competition and won several prizes with it. I still recite it every year to classes on Dr Seuss’ birthday.
But to me the message is this—we must—if we have an conscience at all—stand up for those who cannot speak for themselves. Animals in factory farms are treated with appalling cruelty –if this were people who were treated this way we’d call it a Concentration Camp and everyone would be up in arms. But when it is animals—who cares? They can’t reason so why should we care about them? But I say, it is not can they reason but can they feel pain and suffer? In this life we should be looking for ways to avoid inflicting suffering on others and help those in need. Animals may not have the words to say that they are suffering but by their sounds—cries and moaning/bellowing or actions—biting themselves or other destructive behaviours—they let us know. Animals do have feelings and they do form attachments to their young and it is a cruel thing to take a child away from its mother while she cries for her baby so that humans can get something they WANT not NEED.
A person does not need to eat meat or milk or eggs or honey or wear leather to survive. We take from animals because we are bigger and stronger and we can. I can never understand how anyone with a shred of conscience can be ok with eating something that was tortured for their plate.
So I’m with Horton the elephant here. Look out for those who are small and weak and helpless and cannot speak for themselves—be it animals or people. Their only voice is ours.