In A Christmas Carol, the Ghost of Christmas Present has two waifs under its robes: Want and Ignorance. This boy and girl were Scrooge’s doom in the future he avoided. These two seem more poignant than ever.
Years ago I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Edward A. Frost’s Speaking of Scrooge. In it he discussed how Dickens confronted the Calvinism of the day. Calvinism was used to encourage one of the most basic conflicts within a society: rich versus poor. Calvinism centers around the idea that the chosen few are predestined to heaven, and the others are just destined to go to hell – everyone else is unworthy, a sinner.
In that era the words used to describe the poor showed the prejudice.
Considering the children who have died in detention centers and how people seeking refuge in our country have been described as rapists and bad hombres. We can’t blame a resurgence of Calvinism on the propagation of these ideas – American meritocracy lends itself to this behavior.
Speaking of meritocracy, a recent article addressed the impact of meritocracy on education in this country: education is easiest to achieve for the elite, even before budget cuts to education are considered. This brings me to the other waif lurking to kill Scrooge.
The Fault in Our Stars‘ author, John Green, said:
Public education does not exist for the benefit of students or the benefit of their parents. It exists for the benefit of the social order.
We have discovered as a species that it is useful to have an educated population. You do not need to be a student or have a child who is a student to benefit from public education. Every second of every day of your life, you benefit from public education.
So let me explain why I like to pay taxes for schools, even though I don’t personally have a kid in school: It’s because I don’t like living in a country with a bunch of stupid people.
In Conclusion: The Fall of Rome
Rome wasn’t conquered by an invading army. Rome fell to those it had mistreated.
Maybe we as Americans can learn from Scrooge and change our ways.