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Dr. Suess Supports the 99%

January 7, 2012

Click the link to the right to hear The Red Hot Chili Peppers version of Yertle.

And he looked down the stack.

And he saw, at the bottom, a turtle named Mack.

Just a part of the throne. And this plain little turtle

Looked up and he said, “Beg your pardon, King Yertle.

I’ve pains in my back and my shoulders and knees.

How long must we stand here, Your Majesty, please?”

“SILENCE!” the King of the Turtles barked back.

“I’m king, and you’re only a turtle named Mack.”

14 Yertle The Turtle

From the venerated classic Yertle the Turtle, this exchange between the self-appointed Turtle King and his lowest turtle servant illustrates a spirit firmly attuned to the concerns of The Occupy Movement: fairness, equal treatment, selfishness, and the dillusions of power.

Way back in the 1950s when Yertle first made his demands, Dr. Suess proved he understood the arbitrary claims of rule and the consuming greed of the corporate mandate. He proved, in simple terms even a child can understand, that when a tiny fraction of a population benefits so exclusively, and at the physical expense of so many others, that structure cannot last.

A more equitable distribution of life, liberty and the time to pursue happiness has always been our collective aim—a little more room for everyone to dream the American Dream. On Occupy Writers, more than 3,000 figures from letters and counting posted their support of the Occupy Movement, as Dr. Suess did 60 years ago.

They include another children’s author, Lemony Snickett; musical revolutionary Zach de la Rocha; poetic luminescent Anne Waldman; Ursula Le Guin for you old school sci-fi heads; personal teacher and all around wonderful human Gillian Conoley; and many more. My personal favorite is the very first, Francine Prose, who invokes Walt Whitman before she admits to the overwhelming need to weep at the brilliance of the congregation:

…I was struck by how well-organized everything was, and, despite the charge of “vagueness” one keeps reading in the mainstream media, by the clarity—clarity of purpose, clarity of intention, clarity of method, clarity of understanding of the most basic social and economic realities. I kept thinking about how, since this movement started, I’ve been waking up in the morning without the dread (or at least without the total dread) with which I’ve woken every morning for so long, the vertiginous sense that we’re all falling off a cliff and no one (or almost no one) is saying anything about it…I kept feeling these intense surges of emotion—until I saw a placard with a quote from Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself: “I am large, I contain multitudes.” And that was when I just lost it and stood there and wept.

Many other sites have cropped up to unifying writers and the 99%, including OccuPoetry. Run by poets Phillip Barron and Katy Ryan, the site invites “poetry about economic justice/injustice, greed, protest, activism, and opportunity.” It is updated regularly and January 9 features a poem by me: “Shadows of the King.”

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