Ignoring the abomination which recently hit theaters, The Lorax by Dr. Seuss is perhaps one of my favorite children’s books of all time. I believe if Dr. Seuss were able to see the world’s state these years after his death he’d be infinitely disappointed given how society has continued its relentless march for selfishness, wastefulness, and destructiveness.
The Lorax is a story that, at its heart, is about environmentalism and poses a warning against corporate greed for its inherent risks to nature. A message that was important in 1971 when the book was published and one which has become even more dire in the modern day. Dr. Seuss’ many works carry with them lessons that are missed by children, and even more depressingly by adults. At least, if not missed, willingly ignored.
In the book the Lorax is an endangered animal, the last of his species. He tries to convince the Once-ler to not cut down the Truffula trees, but his warning goes unheeded and soon the trees are all cut down and the Once-ler is put out of business without any trees to process in its factory. All the animals are gone, including the Lorax.
I remember clearly as a child, when I heard this story it affected me. There was this weight of sadness at the idea of there being no forests. Then I fell asleep for the night and I woke up the next morning without a care in the world. As I grew I recycled sometimes. I tried to think environmental but only if it suited me.
The problem is that people don’t truly believe that one person can make a difference. It’s just like people who don’t vote because they figure one vote won’t matter. It’s a dangerous mental trap to fall into and one which we, as lovers of the outdoors, have to speak out for.
On the trail I never pass trash. It’s not my land, it’s not my trail, and sure I’d rather not dirty my pockets – but I’d much rather pick up the wrapper than try to enjoy my hike knowing that the wrapper is still on the ground.
We, those who proactively seek the wilderness and its pleasures, are the ones most responsible for taking care of the wilderness both physically, financially and verbally. Those who don’t use it simply won’t care about it.
It sounds comical, but there are people in this world who truly don’t care about the red wood trees, the bald eagles, or the rock faces of Yosemite.
We are the Lorax and we speak for the trees.
Post photo by Flickr user Patrick|Choi