I tried to finish my last blog quickly, and therefore left something unsaid. Though Dickens tended to focus his activities in England, this was not always so: the Scottish in Barnaby Rudge (though he didn’t want to write the book); America in Martin Chuzzliwit; and (more famously) France in A Tale of Two Cities. Noteworthily, he also spoke about the mismanaged war of his generation and country in Little Dorrit, portraying the Barnacle family as sticking to the “ship of state” in a way detrimental to society. Part of his ire at mismanaging bureaucracy was caused by the unnecessary loss of life in the Crimean War. Now if I must be honest, he also mocked those who focused their charitable instincts abroad while neglecting the suffering going on at home: in Bleak House Mrs. Jellyby is devoted to “civilizing” Africans while it is apparent that she is not even raising her children well at home and her lecturing of an poor man who beats his wife does not appear to benefit the wife in any way. Now, unlike Dickens, I am only lukewarm on the expression “Charity begins at home,” but I feel that his instinct to write his views about other cultures reveal a strong commitment to social justice. (Plenty of positive characters giving or doing good for charity exist in his books and not just the morally obtuse Mrs. Jellyby.)
In Dickens’ footsteps I want my books to portray places where America should act on the world stage, or where individual Americans may do good. I am really hoping that Tales of the Land of the Firebird Part One is produced soon enough to help the people of Ukraine in some way. I also hope to produce a book with the working title The Sheikh’s Wife and Other Stories about the Middle East, even though I fear it is a tad overdue. And then I have a book I have searched and searched for a publishing home for, Maybe the Meek will Inherit the Earth, about Mexican Americans and people from as far south of the border as Guatemala. Another book which I wrote which nobody has liked so far is Brazil, about a country I find fascinating and hope to write more about–even if the books in the future are as hard to sell as Brazil is.
I believe Dickens would approve for a simple reason: in the First World, most of us have everything we need. This was not so when Dickens was alive. Because of this, we should look to poorer countries as recipients of our aid. Besides Ukraine (I just know the United States could be doing more for Ukraine), there are other places, some of them even next door to the United States in Latin America, where we should really ask ourselves, “Is there more we can do for somebody else?” Brazil and India both need medications to overcome COVID-19; they follow the United States in how many deaths have resulted from the disease. With our largess, we should do more. As much as the Great Recession hurts us, there are others in even worse straits.
In this world as a whole half the population starves. The way people suffered at one time in London and New York is now how people suffer in Rio and Mexico City. This should not be allowed.
Well, supper needs fixing now, so I am going to fix it.