The Dr. Suess story of the Sneetches has been used for many years as a polemic against bias and exclusive behavior. It is that, and that is still a good message. The star or lack of it, the removal or replacement of it does nothing about the attitude and training. The vocabulary, expectations, and word usage that the years of living as a star belly brings to any conversation, and with it an understanding and sense of self that simply transcends the placement if a star, is then understood by the others in the group that have the same history. This was revealed in India when they tried to abolish the "class" structure. The life style and patterns of the "untouchables" was evident in a very short conversation, regardless of the transformed appearance that a new set of clothes would bring. There became a short set of "but of course" moments that showed which side of the program you were on. You cannot change the years of history and mindset simply by changing the clothing, the car, or the placement of a star.
There has to be more to this story then. The simple act of placing a star fails to bring the end of the book. The purveyor of the machine is simply an opportunist that has the wisdom to leave before the reality sets in and the mob turns on him for revealing the shallowness of the gullible Sneetches. It is not, you know, that they were not gullible, but that they were revealed as such that causes the wound to open and the salt to get in. Like any group that tries to ameliorate their trials by way of a charlatan and is later found to have been duped, there is a feeling of betrayal. But betrayal is only a seed for growth and yet still fails to explain the end of the book. That seed will produce after it's own kind, for good or ill, and is subject to it's genetics in that way.
So, what is it that is the catalyst? Actually, we are not told. What we are given is a result. There is a point in the story that the presentation changes. It ceases to be about the placement of a star, or multiple stars, or a lack thereof and becomes a story of transformation. There is a seminal shift in the story that reveals an understanding that is radically divergent from all things before. This is the difference between "change" and "transformation". Sometimes this is described as an epiphany, or a moment of enlightenment, but it is a moment from which things are regarded as having shifted and to never be the same again. Perhaps it is when you knew that you were to be a parent, or bankrupt, and that all things would from that moment on be measured by that knowledge. Or it is a quiet and personal realization of the same magnitude, but not the group awareness. When in the movie Forrest Gump, he is running across the high plains and the crowd is following and he stops and goes the other way. The crowd missed the awakening, but he didn't. Things became very clear and the purpose was as well.
Dr. Suess avoids the dialogue that is a part of this and simply says that they decided that the stars were of no consequence and that they could all get along just fine. In the movie "the Gladiator", while in the arena with the other bait, Marcus says that whatever comes through that gate will be best defeated if they fight as one. And you then see that awaken in the mind of each of them as true. And they fight as with one mind. Tis has to be the same moment for the Sneetches. We are called to this higher calling, and yet it is found again and again that we need one to bring that to our awareness. To stand in our midst and bring us to our higher calling of a different direction. When change is not enough, and transformation is the only option, other than cannibalism We become transformed. We do a severe disservice to our own calling when we avoid that call. In fact, there is a canker that is set in our hearts that consumes us. There is a speech in the movie 300, that deals with the torment and anguish of the betrayer. That deals with the "other" transformation that takes place. When the duty to do right is not done. When the real and present truth is ignored or covered up. When a good act is avoided, to make room for a treacherous one of deceit. These too, are found in the annals of history as noteworthy and bear special meaning.
Facing the moment with valor, we later realize that it was our character on the test stand. It is our choice to do right. There is no mention of such a leader of the Sneetches, but conformity and diminishment are the easy paths. To do right requires a leader and as such the transformation, spoken or not, was done by one. The knowledge that it was right drew others, and then the reluctant followers came along. We don’t hear of the insecure and those that lost their power by the defiant act of goodness, but you know they were there. They always are. Timidity and the cowardly have their own realization as well, and torment extracts its payment in many small cuts. Its companion is shame. Ever present and always attentive to the chance to be at attention, shame is oft fled and blindly so. In the movie "The Lion King" the lie of the father’s demise has power, until the son confronts it. So, it is with the lies we flee from. Simba changed his youth for adulthood but was transformed by maturity. There is a difference.
So too, for us. What is it that needs to be not changed but transformed? What will be the catalyst? Did you ever think that you might be the catalyst for others? Is there one that you can come along side and say to them "it's in the past, what crazy weather we are having"... and they would understand? Do you need to know that it helped, or do you just do what you do? What is the story of your last "transformation" moment? Perhaps someone needs to hear. Perhaps you need to tell it again for your own hearing.
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