We saw the sumptuous production of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre this week. As I left the theatre I thought about why people are still so attracted to Dickens’ story in 2017.
One reason may be because it gives us hope the world can change. Just as the rich man Scrooge in the Dickens play becomes more empathetic we like to think the current wealthy and elite one percent of the population can become less selfish and become more empathetic and generous. This goes against the body of research that shows wealth reduces compassion. But in a time when the disparity between the haves and have-nots of this world is widening and when our American neighbours are legislating a tax bill to make the rich even richer, Dickens’ A Christmas Carol gives us hope people can change and realize they might actually feel better and happier if they share their wealth and use it to improve the lives of others.
In A Christmas Carol a very wealthy man learns that all of his wealth can’t make him happy. It is relationships that provide well-being. Scrooge is positively giddy with happiness when he starts reaching out to others. In a time when research shows that loneliness is reaching epidemic proportions in our society A Christmas Carol reminds us we need to build relationships with others, care for others and help others if we want to have happier lives.