DICKENS’ CHARACTER (SCROOGE) TEACHES US ALL VALUABLE LIFE LESSONS
This year, A Christmas Carol, has, once again, an added political and socioeconomic resonance.
The inequalities, injustices and cruelties observed by Dickens in 1843 still exist today. As a result, his critiques are still valid and relevant for us to take note of: Hot drinks, free coats, cold, hungry children: the shocking reality of Britain’s winter ‘warm banks’
A Christmas Carol is an integral part of our Christmas tradition because it has a timeless, moral, spiritual and transformational relevance and value. Perhaps in a time when consumerism and monetary aspects of life dominate our daily lives, promising us a happiness that is not ever delivered, it is time to revisit the lessons of Scrooge’s transformation and discover the true path to happiness.
'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.'
– Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
The main character in A Christmas Carol is Ebenezer Scrooge. He is a cynical, mean-spirited, selfish, greedy, and cold-hearted man who is in love with himself and his money, and nothing else. In the story of A Christmas Carol he meets the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and Ghost of Christmases Yet to Come. As he encounters the ghosts, Scrooge begins a journey of self-discovery and transformation. He becomes a more open person, who is embracing life for the first time. He feels regret for all of his past terrible life choices and discovers love, kindness, compassion, and generosity. Most importantly, he discovers that his happiness, joy and contentment depends on his actions to make others happy.
Last night (8 Dec 2022) I realised a childhood dream. My wife and I went to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon and saw the inspiring and hopeful adaptation of Charles Dickens’ much-loved classic, A Christmas Carol.
Before I tell you more about this, I wish to share with you the reasons that I was so excited to see this play and more so to see it at such an iconic place.
I can remember all those years ago, around the mid 1960s, at high school in Tehran, my English classes, when I first heard about Charles Dickens and his story of A Christmas Carol.
Then, once again in the early 1970s in Oxford. First, at the Swan School of English where I was studying English and then a year later at Oxford College of Further Education, when I was studying for my TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) Exams, when I learnt much more about Charles Dickens, his life story, novels, books, including A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist, and Great Expectations and more.
Moreover, throughout all these years, I also heard and heard again about the centrality and significance of Stratford-Upon-Avon and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre to the English language, literature, and culture.
On this front, I have been very lucky. Since 1974, we have been living in Coventry, only about a 30 minutes or so drive from this wonderful city, and I must admit, by now, given how many times I have been to this inspiring and beautiful city, I can be a full-fledged official tourist guide for Stratford!!
All in all, I am sure you can imagine how excited and happy I was to be in Stratford, at the iconic theatre, seeing A Christmas Carol.
Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is an appeal to the deep instinctive understanding of the common good that all people share. It is an appeal to our essential humanity. It deals with some of the most pressing concerns of people the world over, concerns which every generation must consider and answer. It is written in the hope of inspiring idealism and the desire to give the practical help the world so urgently still needs.
It encourages us to reflect on and to understand things we all seem to have forgotten: What is/are the source/s of true happiness and well-being, joy, laughter, contentment and inner-peace? What is the good life? What does it mean to be a human? What is kindness, generosity, altruism, giving and sharing? What is love? What is compassion? What is social justice? What is forgiveness? What is redemption? What is poverty? What is inequality? What is humanity?
These profound and pertinent questions are as important, valid and releavant today as when Dickens asked them in 1843, when he decided to write his political manifesto, exposing and condemning the abject misery, poverty and inequality of the Victorian poor.
Looking back to all those decades ago, in Tehran and Oxford, for sure I didn't understand every word, indeed I suspect I was lost at times, reading about A Christmas Carol, but I am sure, it must have thrilled me, it must have impacted me.
Here was a new way of looking at many questions in my head about economics and the economy and how to live a values-led life. An approach that I felt in my enthusiasm was so absolutely right that it couldn't possibly be opposed. I was instantly converted to a new way of looking at my personal life as well as the socio-political and economic concepts. I suspect I became a transformed young man, even though I may have not noticed it until much later when I embarked on the path of formulating my professional life and my career yet to come.
Now, given where I am in my life today, what I have done and what I have accomplished, it appears that Dickens' thoughts have never left me. Yes, I moved on, put Dickens and his novels to one side and no doubt compromised. However, looking at the sorry state of our world today, I realise that his insights are more relevant than ever. I know again, as I did all those decades ago, that Charles Dickens was absolutely right and I hope that, in a modest way, we are being worthy of his legacy.
He was always a seeker after truth, how to build a better, happier and fairer world, an important quality that most wise people value and cherish.
Scrooge is Transformerd. He is now a Caring and Happy Man
The Story of Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformation in words and song: Watch the Video
The moral and spiritual story of A Christmas Carol must surely be: If Scrooge can transform, why not every one of us? And if we can change for the better on Christmas Day, why can't that last for all days?
‘A time to open our hearts’
Dickens’s genius in A Christmas Carol is to show how compassion that begins on one day can last all year
‘‘If we can manage it at Christmas, asks Dickens, why can’t we manage it all year round? “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” But first Scrooge has to learn to understand what Christmas is. The first time he says “Merry Christmas” to a fellow human being is an emotional high point in the story. And that, perhaps, in the end, is what Dickens achieved in A Christmas Carol: he made Merry Christmas mean something. If we let it…’- A time to open our hearts
Wishing all our GCGI family and friends a very merry, happy and healthy Christmas and New Year
May your days be joyful and may you all enjoy the simple pleasures of life today and all year round.
‘The world’s first printed Christmas card, an artwork created in 1843 that went on to spawn a global industry, has gone on show at the Charles Dickens Museum in London.
'Designed by Henry Cole and illustrated by John Callcott Horsley, in the same year that Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was published, the hand-coloured card shows a family gathered around a table enjoying a glass of wine with a message: “A merry Christmas and a happy new year to you.”-Photo/Via The Guardian
Christmas celebrates the possibility of a different kind of world. A world of kindness, compassion, forgiveness, justice and peace. The Christmas lights at the darkest moments of the year are a testimony to our capacity to hope. Don’t let the light go out!!!
We firmly believe that, in these dark times, when we are all in search of ways to heal our wounded world, we can nurture this light within ourselves, and help to cultivate it and share it with each other. Love, gratitude, kindness, empathy, beauty, wisdom and joy—by cultivating these feelings in our own hearts and minds, we find our own light within, discover our purpose, passion, and vocation and gain the strength to lift the weight of these dark times; enabling and empowering us to work with others in the interest of the common good, to build a better world we are all imagining.
In 1843 Charles Dickens showed us the path to betterment. He transformed Scrooge for the better. We can, all of us, all over the world do the same, and like Scrooge unlock the door to true and lasting happiness.
With all our love,
Kamran and Annie
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‘As the cost of living crisis pushes more people below the UK poverty line, more families than ever are facing a bleak Christmas. We need your help, now.
Join us (The Guardian and Observer Charity Appeal 2022) as we raise funds for charities working on the frontline. All donations will go to Citizens Advice and Locality to help support local grassroots projects – from food aid to warm rooms, money advice to mental health.’
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