Was Dickens a radical? Only in the sense that anyone with an active social conscience is a radical. When you think about it, the mere presence of such a conscience shouldn’t automatically relegate us to the leftward fringes of the political spectrum. Charity should be mainstream.
In the end, I’d label Dickens (if I were forced to label such a human whirlwind) as a radical moderate. He was one of us. He believed in serious reform, but just enough to usher in a new era of fairness and decency. He wasn’t about to set up a new guillotine to lop off the heads of the money-changers. Remember that he gave old Scrooge a reprieve: he had the heart to understand the miser’s heart, and simply led him to rediscover the kind soul that was trapped and withering inside him for so many years.
It’s a sad commentary on contemporary American society that so many self-professed Christians and traditionalists scorn the charitable virtues exemplified by Dickens. It’s an ominous sign that so many Americans, Christian or not, seem to take wanton pleasure in the “epic fails” of their peers. What are our televised reality shows but social traffic accidents engineered for our viewing pleasure?
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