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The commitment worth making

From the January 1991 issue of The Christian Science Journal

There is a marvelous book for children by Dr. Seuss called Horton Hears a Who! See Horton Hears a Who! (New York: Random House, Inc., 1954) . In it, an elephant named Horton discovers an entire microscopic civilization of people called "Whos." They are living on a speck of dust when they call out for help to avoid falling into a pool of water. Horton responds by putting the dust speck on a clover. The story is about Horton's attempts to preserve this clover, and the civilization, from being stepped on or otherwise destroyed. Since the Whos' world cannot be seen with the eye, only Horton knows they are there; to everyone else, it is just a clover.

The story tells of compassion, loyalty, self-sacrifice, and Horton's unwavering commitment to saving the Whos. All of these qualities come from the knowledge Horton has that the Whos are there. They exist. He knows it, and cannot unknow it. This knowledge shapes his actions from the moment of discovery. It causes him no end of problems with those who don't know or don't care that the Whos exist. But in the end Horton and the Whos are successful. Horton's commitment pays off.

We hear a lot about commitment—or the lack of it—today. We are usually referring to commitment to other people or to careers. A lack of commitment suggests that anticipated rewards may not always be proportional to the effort required in an activity. So is there a commitment worth making? One so compelling that we simply must make it?

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