Remember, mankind is our business

Nearly every year I catch a live or filmed version of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

With COVID-19 still a threat globally and the Omicron variant still the dominant strain in Oregon and the country, I will forego my normal Christmastime pilgrimage to the theater for a live show. I will miss it, because at these live shows of this timeless story, I am in the company of theatergoers who share in the many profoundly humanistic themes of this masterwork of literature.

There are too many scenes and themes to call out that speak to our common humanity, particularly this time of year, when we are asked to think of others less fortunate.

Patrick Stewart plays Ebenezer Scrooge in my favorite adaptation of A Christmas Carol, from 1999.

One of my favorites scenes is when the ghost of Jacob Marley visits the still hard-nosed and taciturn Ebenezer Scrooge to give him a chance to save his soul, while he is among the living. The ghostly apparition of his former friend and business partner warns of the three spirits who will visit him on Christmas Eve.

Marley’s ghost also reminds Scrooge of our purpose in life, to be of service to others.

“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,” faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.
“Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

The chills that one feels at a sprit giving us a chance for redemption never grow old for me. For me, this scene is among the best ever written telling us that we do in life, day in and day out, matters. The encourage, speaking with the grim knowledge of death and the afterworld, reminds us all why our work matters in the here and now.

So with that holiday message, remember the importance of our “real business” in life, particularly this time of year.

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