To our New Year of 2016: A Perennial Message!Jan 01, 2016
A reflection on the still-relevant message from Charles Dickens’ book “A Christmas Carol” written in 1843, from an article by Stephen MacKenzie in the Christmas 2015 edition of The Big Issue in Britain.
In which Mister Dickens and Mister Scrooge explain to Mister Osborne why the POOR, the HUNGRY, the CHILDREN and the HARD-WORKING families of Britain need him to look at Christmas Present and ponder the substance of all spending reviews everywhere…
In mid 1843, a government report showed that children as young as seven were working up to 12 hours per day without legal protection. Dickens was extremely upset by this, and decided to write a story to show everyone that the poor were NOT [as was the general attitude of the time] lazy good-for-nothings who were living from the taxes taken from the middle and upper classes. To make his story as real as possible, Dickens based his characters and where they lived on the streets where he lived, including on his own modest home.
As in all his writing, Dickens warned about the danger and injustice of industrial and commercial advances coming at the expanse and exploitation of the labour that powers it. The article in the Big Issue suggests that this message is still relevant today as Britain’s George Osborne is reviewing government spending.
As a boy, Dickens suffered poverty. He was 12 when his father was thrown into a debtor’s prison. Dickens then became a child labourer to provide for the rest of his family living in the prison with his father. In this way he was denied an education. As an adult he was always wanting to help improve things for working people and the destitute. He walked in the poor streets and visited the poorest schools to make sure that he knew the real stories of the poor. And he raised money for the education of poor children and workers.
So Dickens had plenty of hard evidence for the story that he wrote — a story of a poor family in London. In the story he also explored whether a mean person (Scrooge) could become a generous person when he understood the true cost of his ways to those around him.
The article closes with the message:
In an age when many are still in need, it is worth remembering Dickens’ plea for the necessity of kindness and compassion and the possibility of redemption at this time of year.
My suggestion is that this message is relevant ALL the year, not just at Christmas.
May 2016 be filled with kindness and caring, not only for you but for everyone in your life!
[Photo courtesy of Better World Books]
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