Friday, December 25, 2015

Ebenezer Scrooge

Ebenezer Scrooge... Yeah, I pity the guy, but not for the same reasons as many do. They see him at the start of the story as a cold bastard. Someone who was so greedy and full of contempt that he is a despicable character, and an even worse human being. But the guy is not a bad guy, he is like so many of us, he lost himself, and underneath that gruff miserly guy, there is a decent human. The sad thing is, John there, he often says “Humbug” to someone who wishes him a Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas. Honestly I don't blame the man, in his eyes the holidays are not about good will towards man, or giving gifts to friends and family. In his mind, its all about money.

To divert the conversation for the briefest of moments, look at how some people act starting right around Halloween, think back to the changes in the stores we shop at. Christmas music started playing, decorations started going up, mythical sales of cheap proportions started happening. Yeah, it annoys some people. Making matters worse in minds like his, you have fights over petty crap on “Black Friday,” the mother of all cheap sales. Even as a young man, I remember people stealing full shopping carts from other customers who mistakenly walked to get something else, just to pick through everything. As the holiday approaches, driving skills decrease, with people rushing to get to this store or the next. It is no wonder that more people aren't like Scrooge, why bother with it, its only about making money.

Say what you will there is no reason for Scrooge to act as he does at the beginning of the tale. He berates the poor, looks down on his employee, and is in every way a contemptible person. But why was Scrooge this way? We have to look a the Ghost of Christmas Past. The second of the ethereal visitors the man had, while digesting his dinner.

The spirit drops in, spirits him away to the past, where in just about every version of the tale, we find a young Scrooge, alone. An uncaring father, a mother who is missing (presumed dead), away at a boarding school, with few if any friends. We progress through Scrooges' youth and each year this distance from real relationships takes a toll. We finally find him with a father figure, but at this time in his life, he is severely damaged. Yes, he has a love, but I seriously doubt he would be capable of showing his love for her, and as he cannot she leaves.

When the next spirit comes around, we see what Scrooge really is about, not the mask he wears in front of peers, or employees, but the man behind the mask. First is when Scrooge asks about Tiny Tim's impending death, and is told that his fate could be changed. Then Scrooge is berated by his own comments, fair game, and later asks about two other children he is introduced to, Ignorance and Want. Now, the key thing is that he asks if these two “subhuman” children refuge or resource. A place of shelter, or the ability to survive, and is again rebuffed, when asked about prisons and workhouses.

Now, at this point, lets talk about someone here, who has zero holiday spirit or tolerance. John, did not come from a broken home, with distant parents and siblings. I'm sure, as he sits somewhere in the dark this night, he is doing so in remembrance of his deceased Dad. There is no joy, as he focuses on just surviving. Remember Ignorance and Want, those two come in many forms, and while the spirit is correct in saying we should beware of both, the problem is, are the the cause of doom, or the result of it. From my point of view, Ignorance causes the doom, Want is the result of the doom. We would rather be ignorant and cause need, than we would cast the light on the problem.

Finally, we come to the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Be... Yeah, a fancy title for something we all face, death itself, our own impending mortality. Scrooge is shown what his public mask has lead too, how people are uncaring about his own passing, and this bothers Scrooge. But I also think that his learning of Tim's passing also bothers him, because under the mask, he really is a decent person. After he is shown all the events around his death, his possessions being taken and sold, people relieved that he is gone, the grieving of Tim's parents, is shown his own body and finally his own grave Scrooge wakes up a “new man.” But he wasn't a new man, he was the same person he always was. The difference was that he came to terms with his impending death.

Look, all kidding aside, we tend to cast a blind eye towards those things and people that bother us. Scrooge for all his actions, was only trying to distance himself from long buried pain, feelings of being abandoned, unwanted, and unloved. In his own way, he created a persona which showed no outward compassion for those who had nothing. The thing is, unlike most people who act in this way, he did not celebrate the Christmas holiday. He did not do nice things for others, and in some account that makes him a better person than most, in terms of his character.

You see, while most of us are sitting down to a hot meal, surrounded by those we love and care about, others of us are sitting alone, struggling to find something, anything to eat. They are alone, unwanted by the public at large. The best gift they could be given is a warm meal, and a good jacket or blanket. You see, Scrooge didn't change his ways, he changed the way he presented how he really felt under the mask. The man we see at the end was the man from the start, but he was lost. People like John, people who are worse off than he is right now, what they see is a bunch of hypocrites, concerned about the latest greatest gadgets, totally ignorant to the needs and wants of all those who fall outside of their circles of notice.

Are people like him wrong for being in a foul mood as the season rolls around? No, they are the collective check on the brakes of society. Remember that when you see someone who is not filled with the holiday spirit, who knows, you might find someone who needs a real friend.