As some of you may or may not know, I re-read "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens every year. It is an amazing little book with many things to say. Here's some quotes that caught my eyes this year. Let's compare several passages to see how Dickens moves the conversation about the poor through the entire book. This passage is where Scrooge is approached by some people endeavoring to raise money for the poor. Just before this quote Scrooge asks the famous question,"Are there no Prisons? Are there no workhouses?". The brave souls finally ask Scrooge how much he will give and he replies,
"I wish to be left alone," said Scrooge. "Since youThe part at the end caught my eye. "It's enough for a man to understand his own business and not to interfere with other people's. Mine occupies me constantly."
ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer.
I don't make merry myself at Christmas and I can't
afford to make idle people merry. I help to support
the establishments I have mentioned--they cost
enough; and those who are badly off must go there."
"Many can't go there; and many would rather die."
"If they would rather die," said Scrooge, "they had
better do it, and decrease the surplus population.
Besides--excuse me--I don't know that."
"But you might know it," observed the gentleman.
"It's not my business," Scrooge returned. "It's
enough for a man to understand his own business, and
not to interfere with other people's. Mine occupies
me constantly. Good afternoon, gentlemen!"
Mind your own business, and don't interfere with other people's lives. That's a very Western idea, I would venture to say a very bedrock of some parts of American culture. But like any philosophy it can't be the only idea that guides you. Later on in the book, after Marley's excellent speech where he says "Mankind was my business!", we see into the spiritual world that has been around Scrooge all this time, but never seen or heard by those living:
The air was filled with phantoms, wandering hitherIn this part, we see Dicken's answer to Scrooge's philosophy of not interfering in other people's business. We see that humanity was meant to interfere in the lives of others, not to only concern themselves with their own welfare above others. When its too late, the ghosts realize that all their toil in the world caused no positive changes to what was really important, that is, mankind. We all must see our business as being actively involved in changing the lives of our fellow travelers through life. God interfered in the lives of mankind by giving his only son as a gift that others may live. Christmas, on some level, is about interfering in people's lives for good.
and thither in restless haste, and moaning as they
went. Every one of them wore chains like Marley's
Ghost; some few (they might be guilty governments)
were linked together; none were free. Many had
been personally known to Scrooge in their lives. He
had been quite familiar with one old ghost, in a white
waistcoat, with a monstrous iron safe attached to
its ankle, who cried piteously at being unable to assist
a wretched woman with an infant, whom it saw below,
upon a door-step. The misery with them all was,
clearly, that they sought to interfere, for good, in
human matters, and had lost the power for ever.
Maybe I'll write some more about this on Christmas Eve...
Thanks for reading,
Purgatory: A place of suffering and torment with an unknown duration. In Roman Catholic Theology-the place where the dead are purified from their sins.
By Rage Against The Machine