Earth Day, Dr. Seuss, and handicapped parking

For some in our society, today – April 22 – is a religious holiday.  They dedicate this day to the worship of Mother Earth.  Therefore, without further comment, I will simply reprint here a Letter to the Editor that I wrote, and was published on April 22, 1998.

Dear Editor,
Since when has April 22 become Secretaries’ Day? I remember when April 22 was Earth Day, commemorating the 1970 event in which nearly 20 million people participated on college campuses and high schools nationwide. As a result, “a generation dedicated itself to reclaiming the planet;” the environmental movement was born. However, I’m somewhat glad that April 22 degenerated into “Secretaries’ Day” because the Earth Day movement itself had adopted an incorrect premise. We are not here to take care of the Earth because she is our aging Mother, as environmentalists claim, nor because we worship it as a deity. Instead, we are to care for the earth in obedience to the command of its creator: “fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion” (Genesis 1:28). Of course, fulfilling this mandate involves benevolent and responsible stewardship, not exploitation. This, I believe, is the only valid basis for an environmental movement.
Cordially,
Lee Cuesta

(I must insert two comments here. First, the name of “Secretaries’ Day” has been changed because it is no longer politically correct.  It is now called Administrative Professionals Day.  Second, it isn’t always on April 22.  In fact, this year it is celebrated tomorrow, April 23.  It is always on the Wednesday of the last full week of April.  So next year, Administrative Professionals Day will again fall on Wednesday, April 22, as it did in 1998.)
While I’m at it, I want to also reprint here two more Letters to the Editor that I wrote.  They both enjoyed tremendous reaction from other readers, some of whose responses were published subsequently.  The following letter was published in The Gazette (Colorado Springs) on February 28, 2001. First of all, it illustrates one of the themes in my book, Once: Once, which is that of over-regulation. Second, this letter generated such a controversy in the “Letters” section, that it ultimately gave rise to a short editorial.

Dear Editor,
In reference to the recent letter from Robert H. Johnson (“Parking Problems;” Feb. 20), I applaud those drivers who have the courage and fortitude to park in spaces that are ostensibly reserved for disabled motorists. They are the type of rebels we need in our modern society because they demonstrate the foolishness of regulations that are too easily abused. One criterion of an enforceable law is its immunity to abuse. As it is, so long as one person in a family has a handicapped placard or license plate, everyone in that family benefits from it. Rules such as reserved parking spaces are merely visible symptoms of the rampant over-regulation in our society. A foundational problem of such regulations is that they grant special rights only to a small segment of society, thereby limiting freedom rather than expanding it, and dividing rather than unifying the citizenry. Those who codify such regulations should recognize the social risk of turning something that’s actually a privilege into a statutory “right.”
Cordially,
Lee Cuesta

My next Letter to the Editor was published on November 18, 2003 in The Gazette (Colorado Springs), and it generated quite an explosive response from other readers, whose letters were published subsequently.

Dear Editor:
Dr. Seuss was wrong. Unfortunately, the philosophy that The Cat In The Hat expounds became the behavioral guideline for the first generation that was educated by it. The moral of Dr. Seuss’s story is this: Any behavior, no matter how chaotic or destructive, is permissible as long as you don’t get caught.
The Cat’s escapades were OK as long as the house was cleaned up before Mother got home. In other words, it was OK because she knew nothing about it. How else are we to interpret this couplet at the end of the tale: “And Sally and I did not know what to say. Should we tell her the things that went on there that day?” Even the fish in the pot is ridiculed for his words of caution. As a result, donning a tall, floppy, red-and-white striped hat like the Cat in the Hat’s is popular among miscreant segments of society because it symbolizes their freedom to misbehave as long as they’re not caught.
That’s why I’m sickened not only by the movie version’s release this Friday, but even more by the flood of pre-release publicity. I find the Cat in the Hat’s image on boxes of Kraft macaroni-and-cheese, on jars of Smucker’s strawberry preserves – even in the Post Office on gigantic posters! Not only did we have to endure the original book’s influence, but now we’re being forcibly subjected again to Theodor Geisel’s anti-social philosophy.
Sincerely,
Lee Cuesta

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