Although The Lorax has received mixed reviews, the attempt to teach mass audiences of the importance of caring for the environment should be applauded, not criticized.

In other words, why are so many people arguing over whether the story is anti-industry, left-winged or brainwashing instead of focusing on the good its message can bring?

Back in December, Lou Dobbs on Fox Business Network attacked Hollywood for producing a film that is “indoctrinating our children,” saying that The Lorax not only speaks for the trees, but for the liberals as well.

As many college students have already discovered, political ideological labels don’t matter; protecting the environment does. Whether or not The Lorax’s message is anti-industry, its pro-environment message should be important to everyone.

Dobbs also criticized Universal Studios for teaming up with other companies to promote eco-friendly products, such as Mazda and their new compact crossover sport utility vehicle, the CX-5.

Many have expressed frustration or even outrage that an environmentally friendly movie would partner with an SUV, and especially the “Truffula Tree Seal of Approval” the advertisement features. Whether the partnership is wise, logical or even ethical is another argument. But at least Mazda is working to create a more fuel-efficient fleet of automobiles. With the introduction of its Skyactiv Technology, Mazda announced that it plans to make a 30 percent improvement on the average fuel economy of Mazda vehicles sold worldwide by 2015. Mazda seems to know that, while electric and hybrid cars are better for the environment, regular gas-powered vehicles aren’t going to disappear, so they’re working to improve them.

Out of all the horrible things that happen in the world, why attack anyone who is trying to make a difference?

The Lorax, with his funny mustache and duty to protect the environment bestowed by an unknown source, doesn’t plead with the Once-ler to abandon all capitalist dreams and become a hippie who sits in on protests to Occupy Wall Street and throws red paint on people wearing fur coats (not that those things are bad). He asks the young man to take his business elsewhere, be conscious of the consequences of his actions, and have compassion for other living things. He begs the Once-ler to stop destroying so much just to make his Thneeds, which is not a thing that everyone needs.

Why waste time and energy criticizing a children’s movie for not covering every facet of the complex issues of environmental health, industrial growth, animal rights, entrepreneurial ambitions and more? We should applaud it for doing something.

A recent study led by University of Nebraska-Lincoln sociology professors has found that, over the last several decades, nature of any kind has almost vanished from children’s picture books. Researchers examined books receiving the Caldecott Medal from the award’s beginning in 1938 through 2008 — nearly 8,100 images and more than 300 books. They found a steady decline in illustrations of natural environments and animals, as well as humans’ interactions with both. Although the study was limited to Caldecott winners, the honorees are often featured in schools and libraries, and so can influence children’s taste in literature.

The Lorax teaches us to not let our compassion become overrun by greed, to enjoy and protect the natural beauty of the world, to stand up for what’s right, to risk all for love, to atone for mistakes, and that “unless someone like you cares a whole lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” Those are all lessons we should hope our children will learn.

So why not just let the Lorax speak for the trees?

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