Learning from The Sneetches

Happy Birthday Doctor Seuss! This week your LSS bloggers will be taking some inspiration from the famous children’s author, Theodor Seuss Geisel.  Check in every day this week for more!

I am very excited that our theme this week is Dr. Seuss, because I am a huge fan of his!  His rhymes and drawings are nonsensical and sometimes preposterous, but his stories have such wonderful and powerful messages grounded in a reality that are applicable to everyone no matter if you are 5 or 55.  In my work in community outreach and education here at the Center for New Americans, I am often reminded of the message behind his short story, The Sneetches.

For those unfamiliar with the story, (or if it has been 20+ years since you’ve read it) it is the story of a group divided by looks: a small physical feature—the presence of a star on their belly or not.  “Those stars weren’t so big. They were really so small. You might think such a thing wouldn’t matter at all.”  However, it does.  This small star creates such a separation that the two groups spend all their money and time adding or removing the star in order to distinguish themselves from one another.  In the end, all are mixed up and no one can tell who is who anymore.  It was at this moment that they finally learned that Sneetches are Sneetches, whether they had a star or not.

sneetches

The Sneetches teaches us a powerful lesson:  we are one community, no matter the small differences.  However this is not a lesson that is known by everyone.  Some people in any community are just like the original Star-Bellied Sneetches and put value on somebody’s worth and position based on the color of their skin, the clothes they wear and even the accent in their voice.  These differences are all these “Star-Bellied” folks can see and suddenly “those Plain-Bellied people” are not part of the community.  It becomes an “us versus them” mentality.  But in reality these differences aren’t really so big and just like the star, they don’t really matter that much at all.   Humans are Humans and our mission at LSS is to care for, support, and strengthen individuals, families and communities.  There are no qualifiers on that mission.  No “only Lutherans” or “only Christians” or “only native English-speakers”. Nothing.  God’s love inspires and compels us to serve and value ALL in our community.

sneetchesII

I have met many individuals who embrace the diversity in our community rather than let it divide.  There are so many individuals, businesses, church groups and schools that get involved and welcome others into our community.  I have been lucky to be surrounded by diversity.  Because of diversity, I have met so many wonderful individuals both in the community and in this office and have gotten to experience amazing things!  I’ve gotten to show new families their very first apartment. I’ve cooked meals with people from around the world. I’ve played Jenga with a man, who lost his leg from a snake bite as a small child, and a young girl who had never been outside of a refugee camp before moving to the US. I’ve even been able to connect together people from opposite sides of the globe, who have become fast friends.  None of that would have been possible if we only focused on whether they “had bellies with stars or had none upon thars.”

This week (and every week) let’s remember the message of unity given to us by Dr. Seuss’ The Sneetches.

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