As the year draws to a close I wanted to thank for your continued support and wish you a Happy New Year. Charles Dickens got a nice boost from Bill De Blasio's campaign theme of a tale of two cities. But this week we're more likely to recall Tiny Tim and Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol. Without diminishing the holiday's Christian aspects, Dickens aimed at themes - charity, love and redemption - that transcend our religious beliefs (or lack thereof).
As my family and I drove to visit my in-laws this weekend, we listened to WNYC's radio staging of the novel. (Brooklyn content? Clinton Hill resident and journalist Amy Eddings was the narrator).
Dickens had little formal education and went to work at the age of 12; as a result he was keenly attuned to questions of social justice. You'll recall Scrooge spends the night of December 24th in the company of three sprits. Examining the Ghost of Christmas Present, Scrooge sees two small figures hidden among the Spirit's feet:
They were a boy and a girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should have filled their features out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shriveled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and pulled them into shreds.
Shocked, Scrooge asks the Ghost whose children these are: They are Man's, said the Spirit, looking down upon them. And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased."
Of course it's a Christmas story and at the story's end, the writing is (somewhat) erased. Through reflection and kindness, Scrooge is redeemed.
But the task of banishing ignorance remains before us, and both the Mayor and ICS have our work cut our for us.
So regardless of our beliefs, this is a good week to relax, count our blessings, and get ready for the road ahead. As Tiny Tim asks, "God bless us, every one."
And sign the petition!
As ever, I welcome your thoughts, comments or concerns.