A Christmas Carol: Stave 3, Day 7

The Ghost of Christmas Present has one last message for Scrooge: a boy and a girl, who symbolize Want and Ignorance. The Ghost specifically tells Scrooge to “beware this boy.” But both Ignorance and Want (the want that comes from poverty, not the want that comes from commercialism) will doom a society if they are not dealt with, if they are not denied as the Ghost would say. If children are allowed to remain in those conditions, then the end of that society is not far off. 

Scrooge and his narrow mindedness are particularly attacked in the line, “Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse!” Scrooge was well aware that poverty and ignorance existed in his society, and he wanted it done away with—in the work houses and the prisons. He was quite content that there were have-nots as long as he was part of the haves. His purpose was to make himself more rich on the backs of the poor. 

Dickens’s words here are in line with the prophets of the Old Testament. Amos gives this rebuke to the nation of Israel in chapter 8: 

Hear this, you who trample on the needy
and bring the poor of the land to an end, 
saying, “When will the new moon be over,
that we may sell grain?
And the Sabbath,
that we may offer wheat for sale,
that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great
and deal deceitfully with false balances, 
that we may buy the poor for silver
and the needy for a pair of sandals
and sell the chaff of the wheat?”

What is our attitude toward the poor? It is easy to repeat the line that is so often heard in conservative circles that the poor have brought their misery on themselves. Whether you think that is true or not does not relieve you of the command in Scripture to seek for righteousness and justice in the land and to love your neighbors—even the ones society might despise for their poor choices—as yourselves. 

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