A person’s a person…and other lessons from Horton Hears a Who

Catherine and Elisabeth gave Abigail the new Horton Hears a Who movie for her birthday. The girls had gone to the theater to see it with their daddy, but I hadn’t seen it yet. Now that I’ve seen it a good 3 or 4 times, I find myself slightly disturbed by the parallels between this movie and our society.

There is the obvious parallel that we pro-lifers love to point out, and it is definitely worth pointing out: a person’s a person no matter how small. This includes, as far as I can logically see it, the tiniest embryo that has just been conceived. Horton goes to incredible lengths in this book/movie to protect some tiny, unseen people while everyone else is against him. In the movie they say it’s only a speck; in America they say it’s only tissue. Horton says, “A person’s a person no matter how small” and vows to risk his life defending these tiny unseen people. A group of people in America say the same thing, and are ridiculed by many just as Horton was. In the end of the movie, the other jungle animals finally understand that Horton was indeed right, and the speck was more than just a speck. Lord, may those who scoff at the possiblity of life on that “tissue” also come to see the Truth.

That similarity has been pointed out for me several times before. But as I watched the movie, it seemed that there is another obvious similarity to our culture today. In the above example, the speck and the life on it are compared with an embryo or fetus in the womb. However, one could also compare it with God Himself. Horton hears a sound on a speck one time, and believes with everything in him that someone exists on that speck. He can’t see the person or people or whatever it is, but he believes, even when all around him tell him not to.

His main adversary in the movie is a busybody kangaroo who is terrified that Horton will influence other jungle animals to start believing in life on the speck. She tells Horton, “If you can’t see, hear, or feel something, it doesn’t exist.” She goes on to say, “Believing in tiny, imaginary people is just not something we do or tolerate here in the Jungle of Nool. You will not breathe a word of this lie to anyone else, especially the children. I do not want you poisoning their minds with this nonsense. Our community has standards, Horton. If you want to remain a part of it, I recommend you follow them.” Sound familiar? Haven’t there been countless number of people throughout history who were warned against spreading the news that there is a God who exists even though we can’t see or hear Him audibly? The past two Sundays, our pastor has preached in Acts about the apostles being given an ultimatum eerily similar to that given by Ms. Kangaroo to Horton. Believing in God is radical, even frightening and threatening, to those who don’t believe. There are cultures across the globe doing this even today, and there are frightening signs of trends developing in our own freedom-of-religion America.

At the end of the movie, Ms. Kangaroo has Horton cornered by an angry mob of people that she has convinced to persecute him, and she tells him, “All you have to do is admit to everyone that there are no little people on that speck.” If he doesn’t admit this, he is promised a roping and caging and who knows what else, while the clover that houses the speck is destroyed. Horton pauses, considers: “So I just have to say it isn’t true?” His decision? “Go ahead. Rope me, cage me, do whatever you want. But there are people on this speck. .. And even though you can’t hear or see them at all, a person’s a person, no matter how small.” How many people have been ushered into glory immediately following similar declarations about their belief in an almighty Sovereign God and His Son Jesus Christ? We live in a nation that increasingly celebrates freedom and tolerance for all, except for those who blatantly follow Christ and want to tell others about Him, even (gasp, gasp) their own children. There are laws across the world against homeschooling, partly because of a fear that parents would indoctrinate their children with beliefs such as this. This won’t happen in our country, right? Oh, no? It’s a slippery slope. When a nation who loves to wave the flag of religious freedom and tolerance for all begins limiting said freedom even in the tiniest ways such as forbidding a pastor to say from the pulpit that homosexuality is wrong, or defining tolerance to say that you not only have to let me believe what I want, but you also cannot believe that I’m wrong–then it won’t be long until there will be kangaroos all over the place forcing all of us to make a Horton-sized choice.

No, this isn’t happening yet, at least not in a widespread way. But it could be closer than we would like to think, unless we all step up like Horton and refuse to play by the rules of a society who is afraid of our God. Now, like all analogies, this one breaks down eventually. In the movie, the speck needs everyone to believe in it in order to preserve its own existence. The almighty Sovereign God Who created the universe and everything in it definitely does not need our belief to preserve His own existence; the very thought is ludicrous–indeed, heresy. But I think you can see the eery similarities with me. It disturbed me, quite frankly, as I watched it with Abigail, because I wonder if this could be a situation that my children face in an America 60 or 70 years down the road. Maybe not likely, but certainly not impossible. Will they have the courage and faith to be a Horton? Would you?

The comfort here is that, like I mentioned above, at the end of the movie, everyone realized that Horton had been right all along. Just as the citizens of the town on the speck cried out, “We are here, we are here, we are here,” so all creation cries out, “He is here, He is here, He is here!” And we have a guarantee that at the end of the story, everyone will indeed confess that God is here, whether they have confessed Him on earth or not. Our God is big enough that He’s already won the victory over any mob of “jungle animals” or politicians or civil liberties watchdogs that may threaten us.

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2 Responses to A person’s a person…and other lessons from Horton Hears a Who

  1. semperreformada says:

    Just as John Piper points out, we are to magnify our great God, not as a microscope does (making “a speck” appear larger -as Horton attempted to do), but as a telescope does (revealing “a speck” to be as large as it truly is). In the eyes of many, our God appears nothing more than a speck. May we, with the patience and gentleness of Horton, be ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within us. Keep up the good work, wifey.

  2. Jackie says:

    very well put

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