“I’m quite happy to say that the Sneetches got really quite smart on that day, the day they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches and no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches.” ~The Sneetches, by Dr. Seuss
Walking into the store, the lady in the fancy dress feels intimidating, the way she seems to have it all together and must be “somebody.” The man in the dirty overalls, however, brings about a different feeling–one of superiority, “At least my clothes are nicer than his.” To delve into their bank accounts, it would perhaps be a surprise to learn that he has a very large balance and she seems to live paycheck to paycheck. Everywhere you turn are people who look like you, people who look different from you, and maybe even special people with ‘stars upon thars,” like some of the Sneetches on Dr. Seuss’ beaches. Every single one of us is very much the same once our labels are removed.
I do not like clothing with labels on the outside. It probably began when I was a teenager and felt as if I were the only girl who didn’t have a purse with a certain symbol on it. I felt at the time like an outsider, until I finally was able to purchase the purse, thinking I had finally arrived and would be seen as part of the “in” crowd. The funny thing was that once I had the handbag, I spent a lot of time thinking about the people who still didn’t have one. It was as if I were a Sneetch, and my momentary joy of being the Sneetch on the beach with a star upon thars was diminished by the realization that the other Sneetches on the beach had none.
As you read this, you can know that you have more riches than some readers and less than others. You are more educated than some readers and less educated than others. I am healthier than some of you and not as healthy as others. The comparisons could go a long time before we might run out, I suppose, as could our definitions of many of the terms. Why did Dr. Seuss think this mattered? It seems that we spend an awful lot of time comparing ourselves to others–either happy that we are more or sad that we are less. The truth is that what we do or do not have is not making us superior or inferior to others.
When a marketing genius puts out a campaign that says one company’s product is the best, it’s usually an opinion. When a teacher says one type of student is the best, it’s usually an opinion. When you say oysters are tasty, it’s your opinion. We don’t have to share the same opinions about anything, and quite honestly life is much more pleasant when we have different opinions on lots of things. My piece of writing probably will not change the marketing campaigns of corporations vying for ways to make more money, but maybe it should, catching more flies with honey than vinegar.
There are a lot of us who spend too much time making sure our ailment is a bigger deal than their ailment, making sure our purchase is greater than their purchase, and wanting to keep those without stars upon thars off of our beaches. For today, I am asking you to stop and look at the next person you run into, seeing them and hearing them for the person they are–a human who most likely brushes their teeth and combs their hair the same way that you do. If for a moment we saw people as someone much like ourselves, disregarding the presence or absence of stars, we might find that life could be a lot more pleasant for our stay in this place.