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The foresight of an unshakable optimist...

13 Years Ago

Since the holidays are forthcoming to the literary and artistic scene, we will soon be deluged with nostalgic plays, TV programs and most folks with bookshelves will dust off  Charles Dickens 'A Christmas Carol' and put it on the coffee table. Unfortunately not all whom own his books peer inside, letting the cover do all the work of weaving yet another strand in the holiday warp.

It saddens me that Dickens' works are for the most part defined as 'holiday' pieces and only then even faintly perused... when the man, as a writer, shone so brightly among his peers, and whose writing incited almost revolutionary change in the societal attitude of his day, spanning all working classes from the lowliest beggar to the most pampered nobleman.

I think the most remarkable thing about Charles Dickens' writing is his irrepressible belief in the human ability to change behavior for the better... to recover the lost, precious vial of Compassion, drink of it and be filled once more with the warmth of humanity.

More than being a mere penner of fairy tales, Dickens puts in his pieces death, hardship, poverty, treachery, villainy, sorrow and cruelty...

Yet, amid it all the tiny seed of kindness grows up... so small that at first the reader is blind to it, more concerned with trying to hack through the maze of misery that the realists' brush so accurately painted. The black night overtakes the pages, and the cold hours before dawn chill us and hope is all but spent.

But... then comes the morning light; weak at first it appears, and we wonder at what we see. Is that a green plant growing there, there in all that despair? By George, it is! The dawn's light strengthens and the sun warms the air... the vine grows with it, budding and flowering until the weeds of woe are all but choked out.

A Dickens' ending is no mere annual vine, either; it will not wither when winter blows in cold raging and icy screams; the roots go deep and take hold in good soil, the branches grow and harden, forming the strong rafters of a mighty hope. You know that the good in Dickens' stories perpetuated among the characters, all their lives.

His books remind us of exactly what humans are capable of.

Meredith Greene