We have spent considerable time on the curbside of the intersection of culture and economics. The time of discovery and review is time extremely well spent because that intersection is where transformation on this old planet earth takes place. The strategic components that make it across that intersection determine recorded history.
We toyed with the idea that all individuals gathered at the intersection have carried with them their own personal market basket in which they have placed their most valuable and precious possessions. What the individuals take from their market baskets and inject into the historic action at the intersection will change the world. So, the question is proffered, "What'cha gonna do with what'cha got?" What is the most strategic and important component in your personal market basket that you could take out and inject into the traffic of the intersection of culture and economics?
After spending years observing and participating in cultures and civilizations around the world, this is my personal conclusion: The most powerful possession you could take from your personal market basket and inject into the traffic of the intersection is . . . Virtue.
I am going to insert here the retelling of one of the stories I included in my book, Love and Common Sense, (p. 163). It is a familiar story written by one of my favorite authors, Charles Dickens. It is a classic story about how Ebenezer Scrooge accepted a second chance in life to inject charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence into the mainstream traffic of his life and change his world by helping others around him become better off;
Marley was dead as a doornail," starts out Charles Dickens in his Christmas masterpiece A Christmas Carol. "There is no doubt that Marley is dead. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate." Dickens intends to give Marley a position of authenticity and place him in a position where no one could argue with his established wisdom. He was already dead, but now he had access to knowledge as to where he was and why he was where he was. Somehow, Marley had bargained for the chance to revisit his old, selfish business partner, Scrooge, and give him one more thin chance to mend his greedy ways
After Marley makes his scary entrance through Scrooge's double-locked doors, dragging his chains he had forged in life link by link, he gets down to giving Scrooge his other-worldly advice.
"It is required of every man . . . that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellowmen, and travel far and wide; and if that spirit goes not forth in life it is condemned to do so after death. It is doomed to wander through the world - oh woe is me! - and witness what it cannot share, but might have shared on earth, and turned to happiness!"
Scrooge stabbed at a chance to turn down the heat of Marley's message, "Speak comfort to me, Jacob!"
"I have none to give . . . . No space of regret can make amends for one life's opportunity misused! Yet such was I! Oh, such was I!"
Scrooge couldn't deflect the message, so he tries a little flattery, "but you were always a good man of business, Jacob."
"Business!" the ghost cried, wringing his hands. "Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!" Then Jacob Marley's ghost went on: "I am here tonight to warn you: that you have yet a chance and hope of escaping my fate."
I have personally tried to discipline my behavior over the years to revisit the words and spirit of Charles Dickens Jacob Marley, not only at Christmastime, but throughout the year. His powerful advice, however correct or incorrect his theology, is as necessary as oxygen. Mankind truly is my business; that's the "why" behind the past twenty-five years of Project C.U.R.E.! "No space of regret can make amends for a lifetime of misused opportunity." The common welfare is my business. Charity, mercy, forbearance and benevolence must be the mainspring and clockwork of my life every day.
The message of Marley should remind us that the chains of life that we forge link by link, day by day, should not be chains that shackle us to the greedy accumulation of this world; rather, the crafted links should become chains that bind our hearts together with kindness, justice and righteousness on this earth.
Next Week: Scrooge, Jacob Marley & Business, Part 2
(Research ideas from Dr. Jackson's new writing project on Cultural Economics)
© Dr. James W. Jackson
Permissions granted by Winston-Crown Publishing House