“If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.” ~ Dorothy Parker
I’m currently buried in the pages of “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens. Admittedly, it’s my first time reading it even though “Great Expectations” is one of the greatest influences in my writing. I’ve only now started Chapter One, but already I’m finding a relation to the book that I hadn’t expected.
A wine barrel breaks open into the street, spilling on the cobblestone street with red wine. People drop what they are doing, including a woman carrying an empty food bucket with a hungry infant on her hip. The crowd runs into the street, stomping in the wine and mud. They use their hands as cups, staining their skin, as they scoop the glop into their mouths. Mothers soak handkerchiefs for their children to suck.
The wine shop owner shrugs his shoulders at the sight of the poor sucking off the street. He disappears inside the shop and engages in conversation. One man says, “It is not often…that many of these miserable beasts know the taste of wine, or of anything but black bread and death.”
I’m no Charles Dickens, I know. Dickens has impeccable word choice. Had he chosen to say, “…many of these poor souls,” the tone would have made an entirely different scene.
It’s that tone that struck me the hardest after Mitt Romney’s comments he made during a speech at a closed fundraiser.
“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what …
These are people who pay no income tax. 47 percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect… my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
Mr. Romney, I am part of that 47% of which you speak. I live around the poverty line and I receive no aid from the government. I take full responsibility for my life, thank you. You needn’t convince me.
I still will not vote for you. Because I believe that we have evolved from the 19th century when Charles Dickens described adverse poverty beneath the noses of a ruling class. I believe that women have the right to reasonably priced contraception. Furthermore, I believe that more access to contraception would severely curtail the need for abortions. I believe that children deserve to eat and have a roof over their heads. I believe that less poverty leads to less crimes. And I refuse to live in a society where only those of financial value are deemed worthy of the basic necessities of life.
I am an American, Mr. Romney, and I chose to vote for a president who knows his job is to worry about ALL Americans, not just the Americans of your choosing.
The best part of literature is the vivid descriptions of societies and values of the past. As I write my stories, I hope that one day future generations can read the stories of our culture and find pride in the choices we made.
I’m no Charles Dickens, but I do have fear that my writing may come to reflect the very darkness he describes.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,it was the season of light,it was the season of darkness,it was the spring of hope,it was the winter of despair.” ~ Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities