I’m less interested in how the Grinch stole Christmas than in why the Grinch stole Christmas.
The former seems to be about logistics, the latter about motive and spirit.
Director Ron Howard’s film version of Dr. Seuss’ classic tale devotes as much time to why as it does to how.
The film explores the question in a flashback. We learn a bit of character background through scenes of a grade-school Grinch. These scenes evoke both laughter and tears.
Why is he grinchy? Why is he mad at the Whos? Why does he live alone on Mt. Crumpit? Why, why, why?
The movie presents the possibility that a real Grinch is made, not born. So one may well ask, “What makes a Grinch a Grinch?”
Yet perhaps we should be less interested in what makes a Grinch a Grinch and more interested in who makes a Grinch a Grinch. Remember, it’s the “Whos” who live in Whoville.
Whoville’s Whos suffer Christmas theft at the hands of a Grinch they helped create. In this world inside a snowflake, the Grinch steals Christmas from the Whos, because the Whos stole Christmas from the Grinch.
Those whom we ignore, devalue, hurt or damage stay with us, reminding us that failure to accept social responsibility brings ill-fated consequences.
I am reminded of Booker T. Washington’s address at the 1895 Atlanta Exposition, when he stated, “One-third of the population of the South is of the Negro race. No enterprise seeking the material, civil, or moral welfare of this section can disregard this element of our population and reach the highest success.”
I am reminded of Jubilee 2000, a campaign to forgive debts of impoverished countries. I am reminded of the man who practically lives under the interstate bridge near my home.
As I reflect on these examples, I’m less interested in why the Grinch stole Christmas and more interested in why the Grinch is a Grinch at all.
Cliff Vaughn is BCE’s project coordinator.