Sneetches: An Exercise in Acceptance

By: Brittany Neihardt

November 4, 2014

“That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars/And whether they had one, or not, upon thars.” Amidst the fantastical dreamings of a beloved childhood author lives an important message. Disguised by lyrical rhymes and fictional words, Dr. Seuss imparts a lesson of tolerance and understanding. He tells children not to fear or envy difference, but rather, to release it. Holding on to difference is what makes us different. And, holding on to difference is what teaches us that we are unequal.

This quote actually hangs in my dorm room as a reminder to myself that difference isn’t a bad thing and that I should always embrace new, exciting, and dissimilar people. Coming from the Midwest, I’m used to seeing much of the same—the same people, the same environment, and even the same buildings. This is not the case at all here in DC. Walking down M Street, I will likely hear at least two other languages being spoken. Placing myself in an environment as unique as DC has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. This is why I applied to be a Doyle fellow at the Berkley Center. Working with the Berkley Center allows me to expand my interaction with difference and will teach me so much about what it truly means to be religiously, spiritually, and culturally distinct from my peers.

At Georgetown, I am pursuing a major in Government with a focus on International Relations and a minor in Justice and Peace Studies. I intend to go to law school after finishing my undergraduate degree to pursue a career in international law (or possibly criminal law). I want to counteract the human rights violations that plague our communities. I believe that we, as a community of individuals, can decide to embrace our differences. But, it’s going to take a lot of hard work. I think the Sneetches can be a reminder to us that the product is worth the effort.

The Sneetches of Dr. Seuss’s world were obsessed with a socially imposed hierarchy. There is no true difference between these groups except their appearance. Unfortunately, this ideology sounds all too similar to human history. For centuries, darker skinned people were considered inferior, and women were thought to be less able and less intelligent than men. Dr. Seuss is not trivializing this serious discrimination issue. Rather, he is putting it in a new context—one that everyone, even a child, can understand. Everyone agrees that all Sneetches are equal and should be able to get along regardless of their star status. Why then can’t everyone accept that same fact about humans?

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Sneetches: An Exercise in Acceptance