|A Christmas Carol (c) 1843 by Charles Dickins|
Scrooge, at the beginning of the story, is a misery old man who has wasted his life away, worrying more about gaining wealth than gaining friends.
I found it interesting that Scrooge wasn't not a person who, in the eyes of the law, had done anything illegal, exactly. He'd never robbed any banks, never gone out of his way to physically hurt anyone. Everything he'd taken, had been taken legally. He didn't break any laws. Yet Marley, who died seven years before the story began, warned him that if he doesn't change his ways, he'd up a chained, miserable spirit like Marley is. So what is it that made Scrooge such a wretched person, exactly?
Well, let's look at his conversation with Marley. When he'd told Marley that Marley had always been a good man at business, Marley lamented, "Business?! Mankind was my business! Their common welfare was my business!" Marley went on to say, "How often did I walk through crowds of my fellow beings with my eyes turned down, and never lifted them to that blessed star which led the wise men to a poor abode!"
So it wasn't so much what Scrooge did wrong, as it is what he didn't do right.
He wasn't kind. He did not help others. He did not make it a concern of his to recognize the value and contributions of other humans. He didn't take into account that other people had very real, if unseen, needs that he could easily meet without having to spend a penny of his own money. How much easier he could have made Bob Cratchit's job just with a kind word, or a smile, like Scrooge's own previous employer, Fezziwig had done for him. And of course, he starts learning and remembering these important things as he has his successive visits with the Spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.
And as he saw, during his visit the ghost of Christmas future, if he did not act to help Bob Cratchit's family, then tragic things would happen to Tiny Tim. Not by Scrooge doing anything illegal, but simply by his inaction.
Fortunately, as everyone familiar with the story knows, Scrooge came to understand the error of his past choices, worked to change himself, made restitution for his wrongs, and aided Bob Cratchit's family when they needed it.
I love this story, because not only does it teach me that people can in fact, change their ways and become better than they were, but also how important it is, not just to avoid doing bad, but to make an effort to do good.