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I went to a performance of Charles Dicken’s “Christmas Carol” by my beloved class of 8th graders from Novato Charter School. I taught them in 3rd and 4th grade and called them “The Triumphant Creators.” As these blossoming young men and women acted out the holiday tradition, I saw this tale of class struggle through new eyes. I realized that Dickens was teaching us how to transform the 1%. He was giving the miserly, money-focused people a bigger picture – the eagle view. Scrooge received the gift of compassion for himself as a child. The angel of Christmas Present showed him the story of a family who cherished each other despite extreme poverty and illness- who had more wealth than Scrooge could ever dream of. Dickens also gave this representative of the powerful, rich 1% the story of the lonely, empty consequences of living a life where “Mankind” was not his business.
My husband noted, “And this is a work of fiction.” Yes, it is a work of fiction written in 1843, with angels playing a part in the transformation. The issues have not changed in 168 years – too much material and spiritual suffering. Dickens’ medicine provides a blueprint for our way forward – more imagination, more story, more compassion. It is a Christ Carol. Let us SHOUT the story to the 1%, and the 99%, of the power of compassion for our childhoods, the story of cherishing as the greatest wealth and the story of the consequences of not making each other and our rare planet our business. We are the 100%, with something bigger to help us – the mystery that love exists in the universe.
In these depressing and overwhelming times, Charles Dickens affirmed this miraculous tool given to humans – the gift of story. As Clarissa Pinkola Estes says, story is “a little piece of sunrise through an open window, which can lift any heart.”
Let us make the circle of stories like never before in the New Year, each person having a space to share his or her tale, calling forth the forces of love, mercy, generosity and strength. I call it the 7 Billion Story March, the Peaceful World Conversation.