“Mankind is my business…”

I had wanted to watch the George C. Scott A Christmas Carol over Christmas–but because we had just moved and stuff was still somewhat disorganized, I couldn’t figure out how to get our DVD player to work. My husband (who normally gets that stuff done) was out of town being Santa…so I decided it just wasn’t going to happen this holiday season. The disc has been sitting in the player ever since…I never got it put away.

We have a friend staying with us this week–and we decided to watch something before turning in last night. After going through a number of possibilities, we all agreed on that movie.

I’d forgotten just how modern the thoughts expressed in it are–even though it was written in the early 1800s.

Scrooge–it seems–would be much admired today. His focus is completely on business…profits…and rarely on relationships or caring for/about others. When Marley first visits him, he doesn’t understand what Marley is trying to get at when Marley says

Mankind was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The deals of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!

I’m not sure we understand it today either.

Scrooge doesn’t see people…doesn’t understand that even hard-working people could find themselves in horrible situations, through no fault of their own. Some took the “help” that was offered–help that demeaned people and separated families. But others would rather die–and Scrooge sees nothing wrong with that. “If they would rather die, . . . they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

What a cold way to see the world. And yet–given much of the political rhetoric today–I think that’s how many see the world.

But we can change. We can change what and how we see. Scrooge did…

He discovered that there was so much more to life than he had experienced. Yes, money was helpful…but for helping people, not for clutching tightly to his chest. People were important.

It wasn’t an easy change, but if he could do it, so can we. We have to! Our world is small enough and interconnected enough now that we have to figure out ways to make humankind our business–our top priority.

And so…even though it’s past the Christmas season…I still believe that what Scrooge learned–and what was expressed in such a wonderful way by his nephew–is still important:

There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,’ returned the nephew. ‘Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round -apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that- as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!

Can we live every day in that spirit?