Concerto for blunt instrument

An irregular heartbeat from d.o. to you. Not like a daily kos, more like a sometime sloth. Fast relief from the symptoms of blogarrhea and predicated on the understanding that the world is not a stage for our actions, rather it is a living organism upon which we depend for our existence.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Marley’s Ghost got it right

With the holiday season upon us, this observer can’t resist revisiting that favorite of 19th century fables about the dark side of business: Charles Dickens' "Christmas Carol in Prose".

You know the routine: idealistic, impressionable youth succumbs to the hard end of the business shtick on the cusp of Industrial Revolution England. Before long Ebenezer Scrooge and his partner, Jacob Marley, turn on their nice guy, Old World boss and head down the road to riches, leaving love and happiness in their dust while making a killing in investments. In time, one dies a lonely, miserable death while the other, Ebenezer Scrooge, faces a similar end to his cold, greedy, self-absorbed existence. Enter the spirits of the holiday season. After much revelation, reflection, and a healthy dose of his own mortality: transformation! A new man sees the light of day.

Well hey, what do you think we've been going on about all these years? Like the liberal Dickens and other reformers of his era, activists here in the 20th and 21st centuries have been raising these issues in every conceivable manner. During the go-go 80s and the "greed-is-good" '90s much of that message seemed to fall on deaf ears. Perhaps it was the din of the Opening Bell or all those cash registers that distracted these hyper-capitalists from the real world. All that time they were operating under the mistaken notion that "the street" meant the one that's named after the "Wall" instead of the one where everyone else lives. In the past few decades a whole lot of people in the U.S. forgot that happiness and love were never intended as commodities. We’re talking priceless here; the genuine article. You can't buy it. You can’t compartmentalize it. It's not somewhere on the list, it IS the list. Anything else is just delusion; a sort of psychological junk bond.

Every December 25th, or there abouts, the ghost of Charles Dickens revives the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come, and still the wheels of commerce roll over our human condition. The nation would be a whole lot better off placing real value in our human relationships; spending time at home with our neighbors, friends and family, rather than spending money at the mall. We should be taking part in our communities, rather than being taken apart by some perceived community of consumption advertised 24-7 on every blank surface imaginable.

Jacob Marley's ghost knew the score too late. He warned Scrooge:

I wear the chain I forged in life, I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it… My spirit never walked beyond our counting-house -- mark me! ………Business! Mankind was my business!

Indeed.

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