“Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, for knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind.” Quote from Gordon Gekko in the 1987 movie Wall Street.
Had Gordon Gekko used the word “ambition” instead of “greed”, he would have been correct.
Like Gekko, Ebenezer Scrooge, the main character in the book A Christmas Carol, allowed his healthy ambition to change into the unbridled seeking of wealth. He became a slave. Money became his master. (I have slightly strayed from the text of the book).
Midnight – London – December 24 – Scrooge is a lonely, bitter, and angry man who spends all day in his counting house looking after his money. He buries the deep pain of his loss of a woman years ago and replaces it with seeking more wealth and taking from others. However, he is very impoverished. He is lacking love, giving, warmth and the spirit of Christmas.
Yet, there is still good in him. It will take a small boy to guide him back toward the man he once was.
Scrooge is sound asleep in his home. Suddenly, he is awakened by the ghost of his former business partner, Jacob Marley, who wanders the Earth entwined by heavy chains and money boxes forged during a lifetime of greed and selfishness. Marley tells Scrooge that he has a chance to avoid the same fate if he listens to the three ghosts who will visit him that night.
Scrooge just scowls at the ghost and dismisses him.
GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST – The first ghost shows Scrooge a scene with a happy young man holding hands with a beautiful lady. When Scrooge notices who the people are, he becomes enraged.
Ebenezer Scrooge was once an ambitious, loving, and talented young man. He believed in goodness. He deeply cared for a lady named Belle, who should have been his future bride. But, he could not control his own ambition. As he gained more wealth, he slowly became hardened and evil. Belle sadly said that she has been replaced by a new idol, “a golden one.” Scrooge’s heart had already been corrupted by greed and a false sense of control. Thus, he lost the love of his life. His choice began to define him, and sent him spiraling toward the darkness. He became a shell of his former self.
GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT – Scrooge is still upset when the second ghost arrives. The ghost shows him Bob Cratchit, his underpaid clerk, and Cratchit’s family laughing and celebrating. These generous people are financially downtrodden, but succeed in being grateful and happy despite their circumstances.
The ghost also introduces Scrooge to Cratchit’s youngest son, Tiny Tim, a happy boy who is seriously ill. The ghost informs Scrooge that Tiny Tim will die unless the course of events changes because his father cannot afford to take him to the doctor.
The sight of Tiny Tim removes the anger and bitterness from Ebenezer Scrooge. For the first time in years, he feels small amounts of compassion and the desire to help others.
GHOST OF CHRISTMAS FUTURE – This shadowy figure shows Scrooge a Christmas Day in the future. He reveals a scene involving the death of a disliked man whose funeral is attended by a handful of local businessmen only on condition that lunch is provided. Scrooge asks the ghost to identify this apparently despised man who died. He is shocked when the ghost points to a neglected grave, with a tombstone bearing the name Ebenezer Scrooge.
When Scrooge asks to see tenderness connected with any death, the ghost shows him Bob Cratchit and his family mourning the death of Tiny Tim.
Scrooge is overcome with grief and sorrow as he falls back to sleep.
Scrooge awakens on Christmas morning a different man. He makes a large donation to the charity he rejected the day before, anonymously sends a large turkey to the Cratchit home for Christmas dinner and spends the afternoon with family. The following day, he gives Cratchit an increase in pay and begins to become a father figure to Tiny Tim. From then on, Scrooge treats everyone with kindness, generosity and compassion, embodying the spirit of Christmas.
But the virtue of this story that really ensures Scrooge’s transformation is forgiveness. It is this key of Christianity that saves him when the people who he has always mistreated welcome him into their homes when he undergoes his massive change. He also forgives himself.
His personal growth coupled with overcoming intense heartbreak brings him out of darkness and into the light.
From that Christmas forward, when Ebenezer Scrooge looks into the mirror, he stills sees the reflection of an old man. Yet, he knows that the old man has just aged over the years. Within him exists that young man who valued goodness, love, and generosity. Jason W. Swindle, Sr.