"...I tell myself that I can't hold out forever.
I said there is no reason for my fear.
Cause I feel so secure when we're together.
You give my life direction,
You make everything so clear.
And even as I wander,
I'm keeping you in sight.
You're a candle in the window,
On a cold, dark winter's night.
And I'm getting closer than I ever thought I might.
And I can't fight this feeling anymore.
I've forgotten what I started fighting for.
It's time to bring this ship into the shore,
And throw away the oars, forever.
- Kevin Cronin (REO Speedwagon)
"I Can't Fight This Feeling" - from Horton Hears a Who
This afternoon Jeff and I took Emma and Clara to see "Horton Hears a Who". This animated film, adapted from the Dr. Seuss classic of the same title is simply wonderful. Its message of compassion and social responsibility resonated with all four of us.
I couldn't help but think of how often we are given the opportunity to advocate for the dignity of others and are dissuaded from taking up the cause by suggestions of "what can one small me do in the face of such enormous world problems?" Darfur, Iraq, inner city Detroit, 1.5 million foreclosures, an AIDS pandemic in South Africa, 63,000 US jobs lost in one month…it all seems so overwhelming.
This is where Horton finds himself when he discovers that he is holding "a whole world on a speck of dust" in the palm of his hand. And yet, it is the voice of one small being reaching out and touching his heart, that nerves Horton to find a solution to the Who's "global" crisis.
I think it is the desire to make a difference, to be a part of a solution, to answer the cry for help…far and near…that is the feeling we can't fight anymore. I think this feeling, this movement within collective humanity...and felt as a surging in the individual heart...towards ending homelessness following Katrina, starvation in Ethiopia, and the war in the Middle East, that we can no longer fight the tide of within us. Compassion is overtaking apathy, brotherhood is superseding self-interest, and altruism is rising up and pushing fear aside so that all that is good and noble and kind can remind us of who we are.
I remember hearing an interview on national Public Radio some months ago with an international relief worker and anthropologist who had just returned from Darfur. The interviewer asked her why she thought it was that when we hear reports of a tragic shooting at a local university, we are almost stopped in our tracks with concern and grief and an urgency to help, but when we hear stories of massacres in Rwanda or millions dying each year in South Africa of AIDS we almost seem indifferent. Her reply explained to listeners that the human heart cannot imagine that one person alone can make a difference in solving such enormous problems, and that when we feel so overwhelmed, we shut down so that we aren't shattered by that feeling of helplessness. She went on to say that sometime it feels just too large to comprehend. But if we were to break it down into one story at a time, one village, one family and then were to see that we actually can help one family, one mother, one orphan...before long we might realize that what seemed insurmountable is actually quite conquerable.
Mary Baker Eddy suggests in her work Pulpit and Press:
"Perchance some one of you may say, "The evidence of spiritual verity in me is so small that I am afraid. I feel so far from victory over the flesh that to reach out for a present realization of my hope savors of temerity. Because of my own unfitness for such a spiritual animus my strength is naught and my faith fails." O thou "weak and infirm of purpose." Jesus said, "Be not afraid"!
"What if the little rain should say,
'So small a drop as I
Can ne'er refresh a drooping earth,
I'll tarry in the sky.'"
Is not a man metaphysically and mathematically number one, a unit, and therefore whole number, governed and protected by his divine Principle, God? You have simply to preserve a scientific, positive sense of unity with your divine source, and daily demonstrate this. Then you will find that one is as important a factor as duodecillions in being and doing right, and thus demonstrating deific Principle. A dewdrop reflects the sun. Each of Christ's little ones reflects the infinite One, and therefore is the seer's declaration true, that "one on God's side is a majority."
A single drop of water may help to hide the stars, or crown the tree with blossoms.
Horton didn't ask if he was big enough or strong enough to save his "small planet on a speck of dust". He just did what he could each step of the way.
When we know who we are and what is at work in the the core of our being, spurring us on to live nobly and make a difference…we walk with courage. When we preserve that "scientific unity with our divine source" and demonstrate it every day by following our heart, doing what we can, and resolving to do more the next day, little by little planets are saved and its beings sing a song of humanity.
We don't have to aspire to great things, but as Mother Teresa said:
"only small things done with great love."
Horton heard a Who…what do I hear of my neighbor's cry for help?
Will I answer?