10:18:05 pm on
Sunday 14 Jul 2024

Erase It, Now
AJ Robinson

“This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.” From A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens.*

Mr Magoo as Scrooge?

Over the years, I’ve seen that quote brought to life on the screen in many versions. Mr Magoo did his take on it. There have been other animated shows, television specials and movies and stage presentations. I even saw an opera version. It was rather funny to see Scrooge sing, “Bah, humbug!”

Many of those versions didn’t include the boy and girl who cling to the Spirit of Christmas Present: Ignorance and Want. After all, it’s not like they’re vital to the overall story. Yet, of late, I’ve seen just how important they are to our modern American society.

I keep coming back to those words of the Spirit: “on his brow I see that written which is Doom”. A powerful statement and one we need to heed today. Sadly, we Americans no longer share a common frame of reference when it comes to knowledge and information; rather ironic given how easily available data is these days.

When I was a kid, we all gathered around the television to watch Walter Cronkite present the news each night. There was no ambiguity back then, no alternative facts and most especially no people living in a bubble, such that they didn’t know and accept the same facts as everyone else. Oh sure, there were the Flat Earthers, the Klan and other groups that believed wild and crazy things, but their views were not mainstream.

These days, what’s mainstream? Not much and that’s why I now see ignorance written on a great many brows. Even among my own sphere of family and friends there are people spouting the Big Lie and calling COVID a liberal hoax.

No agreement, no progress.

I mean, people, if we can’t agree on the simple stuff, how can we ever move forward as a nation? That’s what truly worries and scares me. I see people screaming at school board meetings and making death threats against republicans just for voting in favor of the infrastructure bill and I am very disheartened. Good people are leaving politics because of all this, and what does that leave us to choose from for our leaders?

Ignorance is written on a lot more brows and that warning about doom rings truer and truer each day. What’s the answer? Sadly, I don’t know! I’d like to think if we’d all just dial back the vitriol in our daily lives and social relations, we could learn to live together; I don’t see that happening.

When an entire segment of the population sees nothing wrong with violence to correct society. When they that their opponents are socialist pedophile cannibals, how do we move forward? I hear the pundits say we just need to get through this tough time and things will eventually improve; I have serious doubts.

Those who spout these wild conspiracy theories and call for violence are not being held accountable and we have a midterm election coming up. When people at the top ignore the rule of law, what does that say to the rest of society? It again brings up that word: doom.

There was a time when I didn’t worry about elections. I mean, I hoped the candidates I supported won, but I wasn’t scared of them losing. After all, their opponents, while espousing different views, weren’t evil or bent on hurting our nation and its citizens. Now, sadly, I do worry as I don’t have a clue what will happen if some of these people get into positions of power.

Charles Dickens warns us to acknowledge and beware of ignorance and want, which is greed by another name. Both exist, as he shows clearly in A Christmas Carol. Of the two, he warns, ignorance is the worst.

Come together with me.

I think of his final words on the matter, “Doom, unless the writing be erased.” That is what I hope and pray will happen: that enough people come together that we work to erase what is written on our brows. I’m ready to try, people, who’s with me?

* Published by Chapman and Hall on 19 December 1843.

Combining the gimlet-eye of Philip Roth with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Working, again, as an engineeer, after years out of the field due to 2009 recession and slow recovery, Robinson finds time to write. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true. His teen vampire adventure novel, "Vampire Vendetta," will publish in 2020. Robinson continues to write books, screenplays and teleplays and keeps hoping for that big break.

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