Diversity, Equity, Inclusion… and naughty little boys
IABC APAC’s upcoming Diversity, Equity and Inclusion panel reminded Wayne Aspland of a book from his favourite author. The name might surprise you.
Okay. I’ll admit it. Like many tormented women, my wife thinks I’m a six-foot-tall naughty little boy.
I can’t blame her really.
I mean, I have a penchant for infantile entertainment, like The Young Ones, Blackadder and Rogen/Franco movies. I suffer from repeated bouts of man flu (if you’re not familiar with the ravages of man flu, check out this instructive video).
And I have a habit of constantly teasing my long-suffering partner. I justify this by saying I’m like the little boy in love. He doesn’t know how to express his feelings, so he picks on the poor target of his affections. You can imagine the reception that lame excuse receives.
So, yes. My wife thinks I never grew up and she’s probably right.
(I just read this to her, and her smiling response was “True, very true”).
Mind you, I have one child-like quality I’m intensely proud of. It concerns my choice of favourite author.
It’s not Fitzgerald, Woolf, Rand or Camus. And, it’s not Christie, Martin, King or Rowling.
My favourite author, without a doubt, is Theodor Geisel or, as he is better known, Dr Suess.
I was reminded of a Dr Seuss book – The Sneetches – just the other week. An IABC colleague, Genevieve Hilton, and I were chatting about how much we love it.
Then, it occurred to me that The Sneetches is totally relevant to IABC APAC’s upcoming Diversity, Equity and Inclusion panel session.
You see, The Sneetches is all about discrimination and bigotry. More specifically, it shows in the most beautiful way possible, how utterly stupid discrimination and bigotry are.
It’s a story of vanity and meanness. That leads to chaos. Then, finally, harmony and happiness when everyone realises that what consumed them didn’t really matter.
Planting important life lessons in kids’ books is the secret of Dr Seuss. You love him as a child because of the extraordinary worlds and characters he creates.
Then, you rediscover him when you grow up and read his books to your children.
That’s when you find out there’s a lot more to Dr Seuss than you thought.
He wrote about patience, loyalty and keeping your promises back in 1940 (Horton Hatches the Egg).
About dictators and despots in 1958 (Yertle the Turtle).
As I said, he wrote about discrimination and bigotry in 1961 (The Sneetches and other stories). In the same book, he also wrote about the foolishness of intransigence (The Zax).
He wrote about the human threat to our environment in 1971 (The Lorax). Think about that one for a moment. He was writing about the environment in the early ‘70s when most of us weren’t giving it a second thought.
Then, just 18 months before he died in 1991, he wrote what I believe is the greatest motivational/self-help book ever written… Oh, the Places You’ll Go. This book is so revered that, even today, it is a popular gift for graduating students in the USA and Canada.
Along the way, Dr Seuss even wrote a book that demonstrated the value of simple communication (did you know he used to work in advertising?). His most successful book – Green Eggs and Ham – actually sprang from a bet. The challenge was to write a book using no more than 50 simple words.
Put simply, Theodor Geisel was one of the most inspired, and inspiring, people who ever lived. If you want to better understand the human condition, you could do a lot worse than wander down to a department store and buy a Dr Seuss box set.
And, if Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is important to you, check out our free panel session on 12 November. If you can, read The Sneetches first.