Sunday, January 27, 2002

Sam (I Am) has something for all of us

        Because you write for the newspaper, people assume you know things. Incredibly, they think you know more than they do. You are, in their minds, an “expert.” Ha ha.

        The school principal asked me to speak at the assembly honoring the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. A thousand kids would be there, Grades 1-12, seeking wisdom on making life easier between the races. As if I knew.

        They expected profound solutions to eternal dilemmas.

        I gave them Green Eggs and Ham.


        There aren't many secrets to life you can't find in Green Eggs and Ham. This book by Dr. Seuss contains most of the wisdom in the world. The rest is in another of his books, Oh! The Places You'll Go.

        For those of you who grew up on another planet, Green Eggs and Ham is a little book about a big guy of indeterminate species who is resistant to eating certain foods, and the little guy, also of curious biology, who persuades him to chow down.

        Sam, the little guy, who a few in my audience decided is “a mutant fish” offers the big guy (“a giant hamster,” they said) any number of options for experiencing green eggs and ham.

        In a house. With a mouse. In a box. With a fox. Here or there. Sam insists on listing every option.

        The giant hamster wants only to be left alone.

        Sam-the-mutant-fish can't believe the big guy's resistance. He won't eat the eggs and ham.

        Would you, could you?


        Sam's incredulous.

        Sam persists. Sam would make a great replacement-window salesman. He goes to great heights (a tree! a tree!). He plumbs the depths of despair (Would you, could you in the dark?). He enlists the help of the animal kingdom. Who wouldn't eat green eggs and ham in the presence of a goat?

        You'd have to be crazy.

        Finally, the big guy relents, just to shut Sam up.

        Naturally, he discovers that he likes green eggs and ham.

        The story's not about eating your vegetables. It's about opening yourself to that possibility.

        Limiting ourselves to one way of thinking, or to associating with one race of people, is to deny ourselves the full adventure of living. It's like seeing with one eye.

        So this is what I said to all those kids:

        Always taste the eggs and ham.

        You may not like them. You might decide, after a few bites, that ham isn't for you. Or, like Sam's big friend, you might decide it's pretty good. You might even opt to eat them in a boat or with a goat. Regardless, you will have taken a chance.

        In dealing with our differences, we need to be more like Sam.

        Also, more like the giant hamster.

        The End.



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Sam (I Am) has something for all of us
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