Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Lorax

I want to start off by saying that when I watch movies and listen to things, I always love to listen to the deeper message but at the same time I appreciate the message on the surface.  I understand that The Lorax by Dr. Seuss has a very outward in preaching that we need to save the earth.  That is true.  The recent movie depicts that if we are willing to be patient, let the world around us grow, and when we take from it that we leave enough behind so that it will continue; these are all good things.  But even deeper than that there is an underlying message in The Lorax about keeping our promises and making choices.

There are two main characters in The Lorax.  Obviously there is the Lorax but there is also another character called the Once-ler.  The Once-ler was a man that had a dream. As he pursued this dream of a thneed, he got lost.  He lost all sense of what was right and wrong because things had escalated out of proportion from helping people to looking for personal gain and satisfaction and he figured it out a little too late.  The beauty of this remake of the movie is that it wasn't too late.  It followed the story further than the "UNLESS."  But before I get there, I need to introduce the Lorax... And in enters Danny DeVito.  Love him.

"The legendary ... slightly annoying ... guardian of the forest, The Lorax."  I can't think of a better way to describe this character.  I loved the script in this by the way.  But let's take a closer look at The Lorax and who his character really represents.  Once the Lorax appears on the scene, he goes to confront the Once-ler on his operation that he is starting in the Lorax's forest:

The Lorax: Hey! Did you chop down this tree?
Once-ler: Uhh... No.
The Lorax: Who did it?
Once-ler: [gasps] What's that?
[the Lorax looks back and Once-ler drops his ax on Pipsqueak the Bar-ba-loot]
Once-ler: I think he did it.
The Lorax: [growls] Leave! Vacate the premises! Take your ax and get out!
Once-ler: And who are you?
The Lorax: Hey, hey! I-I'm the Lorax! Guardian of the forest. I speak for the trees.
[doesn't get a reaction from Once-ler]
The Lorax: So you're telling me, that you didn't see me magically appear out of that stump. With all the thunder and lightning. You didn't see any of that?
Once-ler: No. But, that sounds amazing. Can I see some of that?
The Lorax: Yeah, I could show you. But that's not how it works.

Well, the Once-ler is already off to a bad start.  After being raised in a family that didn't believe in him, he doesn't trust anyone, including the Lorax and lies to him.  The Lorax says something really interesting towards the end though... The Oncer-ler wanted to see a miracle and the Lorax responds that he could but that isn't how it works.  Being religious, I believe that The Lorax represents God and the Once-ler represents all of us.  I think that we all in our hearts are have good desires but if we were aren't willing to change our actions and constantly check ourselves, our actions can lead us away from where we initially intended to go.  The Once-ler from his own experience asks a young man Ted who the Once-ler is relating his story to why Ted cares about the trees.  The Once-ler is asking what his motives are for doing what he is doing especially when Ted comes back a second day to hear more of the story.

Once-ler: Really? Because when a guy does something stupid once, well that's because he's a guy. But if he does the same stupid thing twice, that's usually to impress some girl.

We may not have bad intentions and we might not have the same upbringing but I know that we all will find ourselves in a place where we are faced with doubt and the opportunity to do something right or do something easy.  The thing is when we make decisions, consequences always follow.  And if we want good consequences, we need to make good decisions.  I think this is what is meant when the Lorax is cautioning the Once-ler to not harvest the trees but to only harvest the tuffs!

The Lorax: Which way does the tree fall?
Once-ler: Down.
The Lorax: It falls the way it leans.  Be careful which way you lean.

You see the Once-ler was trying to speed things up.  He was trying to skip the important steps in harvesting the tuffs by just cutting down the trees.  The tree itself was necessary to help his dream grow!  Later on once things have gone too far, the Lorax confronts the Once-ler again and tries to wake him up and see how far he has gone wrong:

The Lorax: Happy yet? Feel that hole deep down inside you or do you still need more?
Once-ler: Look… If you got a problem with what I am doing then why haven’t you used your quote and quote powers to stop me?
The Lorax: I told you.  That’s not how it works.
Once-ler: Right… I forgot.  You’re a fraud.  I need you to get out – NOW!
The Lorax: Why? Do I make you uncomfortable? Remind you of the promises you made? The man you used to be?

The Once-ler continues to fight him by saying that he has his right to choose to do whatever he wants to and because he hasn't broken the law and hasn't hurt anyone that he really doesn't have to explain himself or his choices.  The problem was as the last Truffula tree fell with the sound of an axe he knew that was all a lie.  He did have the right to choose and The Lorax wasn't going to force him to do anything but instead he was warning him of the pain and suffering and guilt that was in front of him.  The Once-ler's actions had affected a lot more people than he realized and the one person he hadn't anticipated hurting was himself.  So this personal history of the Once-ler is related to a small boy named Ted who has come searching for the trees.  Right near the end, the Once-ler suddenly stops.  He realizes that even though things continue to look like they are only going to get worse and nothing is going to change, there might still be some hope left.

Once-ler: Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it's not.
[the Once-ler looks around his apartment and drops something down to Ted through the window]
Once-ler: The last truffula seed… You need to plant it Ted.
Ted the Boy: Ya but... Nobody cares about trees any more!
Once-ler: Then make them care! Plant the seed in the middle of town where everyone can see! Change the way things are.  I know it may seem small and insignificant but it's not about what it is.  It's about what it can become.  That's not just a seed anymore than you are just a boy.

 As I said before, this movie ends happily and so the seed was allowed to grow and things were able to return to the way they were meant to be.  It is a kid's movie... What else are you going to expect?  But the point is that I believe that there really is a God and that people want good things.  If we are willing to listen to God, be patient, choose to do the right thing, and keep our promises, then we will not only end up with the things we thneed... I mean need... But we will be able to avoid hurting the people that we love, including ourselves.  There is a way that we can be happy but it just takes a little bit of effort and a lot of faith and trust.  Take the time to think about what it is that you really care about.  Know that no matter what that there is always time to change.  And lastly, the promises and the choices we make, "may seem small and insignificant but it's not about what it is.  It's about what it can become."

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