December 19, 1843, was a big day for Charles Dickens. He didn’t realize at the time how big a day it was. On that day, his now-famous classic Christmas tale was published. I am certain that he had no idea that more than a century and a half later, every December, A Christmas Carol would again be retold in various ways.
However the story is rescripted or recast, the tale and the lessons taught are still the same. I must admit that every year, I have to watch the updated version of the wonderful adaptation of Dickens’ book called Scrooged With Bill Murray playing a modern Ebenezer Scrooge. I eagerly await the scene every year when Carol Kane, the Ghost of Christmas Present yells, “It’s a toaster!” I also get a bit emotional when Bill Murray tells the audience that it’s not too late and leads everyone in “Put a Little Love in Your Heart.”
Chuck (his close friends called him Chuck) Dickens established very early in the original story that the main character, Ebenezer Scrooge, was not the nicest guy on the block. To use Dickens’ words, he was “a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner!”
As I am sure most of you know, Scrooge had a few late-night visitors on Christmas Eve. We aren’t talking about the neighbors stopping by to have some holiday eggnog. Ebenezer’s dead business partner Jacob Marley as well as the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future visited him As we know, the result was that the uninvited guests from the other side were a wakeup call for the greedy, nasty, and egocentric Scrooge.
With the Dickens background behind us, we have arrived at where I can share with you what I want for Christmas. It’s not something just for me, but for us all. Please help me if I am off base, but am I the only one who makes a connection between many of our current politicians and Ebenezer Scrooge?
My Christmas wish is that someone uses a Dickens or Jacob Marley connection to help our elected officials with their much-needed wake-up calls. Games continue to be played, as power and wealth seem their only goals. I think a visit from a few ghosts who could show them the past, present, and future might be in order. Indulge me while I recast for A Politician’s Christmas Carol.
Past — The first visit should be from Thomas Jefferson. By most counts, Thomas Jefferson was a statesman and a leader, not a politician. As far as I am concerned, the difference between politician and leader is in the following simple statement by James Freeman Clarke: “A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman of the next generation.”
I am certain that Jefferson could show our current politicians what it meant to risk everything for your country and what it means to think about the next generation. By writing the first draft and then signing the final version of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson was willing to give up everything for this dream. Many current politicians will not even risk voting for their beliefs if it is not a good move politically.
Present — The Ghost of America Present could be played by any of the thousands of servicemen or women who have given their lives for us and their country in these crazy wars. While our elected officials play filibuster and debt-ceiling games as they struggle for power, more of our young military people die every day.
When will we focus on what is important? Maybe a visit to a battlefield where bullets whiz by and death is real would help the gamesmanship end. Maybe we should have the offices of our politicians and our wounded veterans in the same building. While games are played, thousands in this country of so much go to bed hungry each night. Maybe a visit to a soup kitchen would help. Maybe the politicians’ offices should be in a corner of the homeless shelters.
Future — I am casting my grandchildren as the politician’s tour guides to the future. I will not apologize for the nepotism because we are screwing up their world. The stops on this part of the journey would include a tour of the deserted neighborhoods where the middle class once lived. There would also be a stop at the aquarium where the last marine life is on display. Let’s not forget the last piece of snow in the Smithsonian. In addition, a Dickens trip to the future is never complete unless we visit the graveyard. My grandchildren would parade the politicians past the rows of headstones where so many young people ended up because they couldn’t afford the insane cost of healthcare.
As this Politician’s Christmas Carol ends, we still need that Tiny Tim “God bless us” moment. That piece of the story is up to us. Will your voice be heard? Will you get involved? Will you help make a difference? Just as Bill Murray told the audience, it isn’t too late. If we all let our hearts tell our hands what to do, the future will be bright.