The debates going on at the present time about gun violence in America remind me of Charles Dickens novella ‘A Christmas Carol’. Published in 1843, it is about an old miserly businessman named “Ebenezer Scrooge” who refuses to celebrate Christmas thinking that it is a waste of time and more importantly money. Every time someone wishes him a “Merry Christmas” he answers ‘Bah…Humbug’. But…someone “up above” must think there is still hope to change him for the better because in the story he is visited by 4 ghosts: Jacob Marley, the ghost of his former partner who passed away many years earlier, and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come.
Is America a ‘Scrooge’ symbolizing an entity which refuses to change in order to save its soul? Is there no hope to change the reality of gun violence? Do we need to be visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past (Columbine?), the Ghost of Christmas Present (Newtown) and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (???) in order to change our society? Are the problems so complex that there are no solutions? For a nation which brags about embodying the ‘Can Do’ spirit, I want to still believe that it’s possible.
The famous American theater and movie actor, Orson Welles, performed this classic Christmas tale in 1939 for The Mercury Theater On The Air. This was an American radio program which aired from the early 1930s to the beginning of the 1940s. I would like to share it with you now to get into the real spirit of Christmas (you can click on the pdf file to read the story before hand) and to spread the message of Christmas that Charles Dickens expressed in his characters (Tiny Tim being the embodiment of Christ):A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
I also urge my students and readers to watch the 1951 BBC production of Charles Dickens’ story entitled “Scrooge” starring Alastair Sim. It is by far the best version and traditionally shown on British and American TV channels every Christmas season. Charles Dickens ‘A Christmas Carol’ not only coined the expressions: ‘Bah! Humbug!‘ and ‘Scrooge’ but also…Merry Christmas!