Fake Plastic Trees

Our tattered and often read Random House copy of The Lorax by Dr. Seuss.

We took the kids to see The Lorax tonight. I have to admit that I pushed to see it. We’ve had the Dr. Seuss book in our house for years, and it’s a favorite of mine. On a camping trip years ago we were introduced to it at a ranger-led evening program. I liked the story’s message, but moreover I like Dr. Seuss.  I can’t help it. His books are just too much fun to read aloud, and I love to read aloud to our boys.

I could give you my review of the film, but I won’t. I will let you see for yourself what you think of it. What I am going to do instead is briefly address the controversy surrounding the film. On Fox News late last month, Lou Dobbs accused The Lorax of indoctrinating children by “espousing the virtues of green energy policies.” Having read the book many times, I must admit that I missed that agenda altogether. I also can’t recall any comments in the film about energy at all. While there are messages about pollution and destruction of the environment, the film (like the book) is a cautionary tale about abusing the finite resources of the planet on which we live. The Lorax plainly “speaks for the trees” which, in the story, are being felled at an alarming rate until ultimately every last truffula tree has been cut down.

Now, I’m not afraid to admit that I am left leaning. I am. Lou Dobbs could definitely lump me in with members of the liberal left with an environmental agenda. While I’ve never actually hugged a tree (at least not intentionally or while I was sober), I do try to respect the environment or at least acknowledge the importance of its existence. I mean, we currently occupy the only planet that we’ve thus far found can support human life. If we kill off the fish, birds, and trees on this planet or pollute or otherwise mismanage our water resources, we’ve got nowhere else to go. Unlike the refugees aboard Battlestar Galactica who can reside on a giant space ship traveling through the universe in search of another home, at this point in time if we ruin our planet we’re effectively screwed.

What saddens me the most about the controversy surrounding this film is that there is any controversy at all. The idea that there’s something inherently evil or ill-advised about caring for our planet is ridiculous. I also refuse to accept that it’s only liberals who care about conservation. Theodore Roosevelt was a Republican president who over 100 years ago set aside 230 million acres of land under federal protection. He knew then the importance of presiding over nature with care and conscience. If Lou Dobbs and other members of conservative media want to view The Lorax as an attempt to indoctrinate the youth of this country with a “liberal” agenda of environmentalism, they’re welcome to their opinions. I’m going to reach across political lines and stand with Teddy on this one. I don’t want to live in a world like Thneedville with fake, plastic trees.

“We have become great because of the lavish use of our resources. But the time has come to inquire seriously what will happen when our forests are gone, when the coal, the iron, the oil, and the gas are exhausted, when the soils have still further impoverished and washed into the streams, polluting the rivers, denuding the fields and obstructing navigation.”   ~Theodore Roosevelt

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