One of my favourite childrenâ€™s books is Horton Hears a Who! by Dr Seuss. Just in case youâ€™re unfamiliar with this important literary work, allow me to summarise the plot. While splashing in a pool, Horton the elephant hears a speck of dust speaking to him.
Horton gradually realises that this speck is home to microscopic beings called Whos, and vows to the Mayor of Whoville to protect them all from harm. Horton is ridiculed by other animals, who canâ€™t believe heâ€™s going to such lengths for a community of people none of them can see or hear, but Horton perseveres. Throughout the story, he repeats: â€˜A personâ€™s a person, no matter how small.â€™
Our world tends to value whatâ€™s big and impressive. We idolise the strong, confident and glamorous, and in the middle of all this, anyone small and unassuming is easily overlooked. Children and vulnerable adults are neglected and exploited in the UK, just as they are in many parts of the developing world. It is only the form of this neglect and exploitation which changes between cultures.
Godâ€™s wisdom turns the worldâ€™s thinking on its head. I believe he would say to us: â€˜A personâ€™s a person, no matter how small.â€™ Or, more biblically: â€˜Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.â€™ (Psalm 82:3-4).
And thatâ€™s not all. In Isaiah 11, a hallmark of Godâ€™s kingdom on earth is: â€˜a little child will lead themâ€™ (Isaiah 11:6). In the kingdom of God, the small are empowered: the weak are strong, the downtrodden can be powerful, children can be leaders.
I wonder how closely we follow Godâ€™s perspective on this. We can very readily get drawn in to the cult of the big and impressive, and try to make ourselves look big and impressive while weâ€™re at it. So many people have grand schemes for how theyâ€™re going to change the world; so few are intentional about investing in individuals, particularly small individuals. But if we make the effort to think smaller, to value the vulnerable and oppressed, we model a crucial aspect of the heart of God. What might this mean for you?