Saturday, December 24, 2011

Dickens For The 21st Century

Every year, as Christmas approaches, I think again of A Christmas Carol. The world has always been opposed to the idea of Christmas -- unless it can be turned into a money making proposition. If Christmas can serve the ends of business, by all means, it should be celebrated.

But, as Marley's exasperated ghost reminded Scrooge: "BUSINESS? Mankind was my business! Their common welfare was my business!" The common welfare has always been under attack by the forces of greed  -- no more so than in the last three decades -- when those forces have established well protected bunkers in both Ottawa and Washington.

And, all too often, religion and capitalism have formed a noisy alliance -- like the chains Marley's ghost dragged around with him. The result has been an assumed Divine Sanction, wherein Christianity is proclaimed to be on the side of the wealthy. That is why the Ghost of Christmas Present warned Scrooge:

There are some upon this earth of yours," returned the Spirit, "who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us."

That alliance has produced darkness -- the perfect metaphor for ignorance. If there is a common theme among many of those who stand for office these days, it is how little they know. "Darkness is cheap," Dickens wrote, "and Scrooge liked it."

Scrooge's journey is from darkness to light -- from ignorance to wisdom. For one hundred and sixty years, readers and audiences have cheered when he finally gets the point his ghostly visitors have been trying to teach him:

"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.

Once again, hope dictates that we must not shut out the lessons that they teach.

This entry is cross posted at The Moderate Voice.

No comments: