Friday, December 16, 2011
The Muppet Christmas Carol has been an old family favorite, at least for the past few years, after a friend introduced us to the movie.
However, this being my fourth of fifth time through, I caught a line that now bothers me immensely. Toward the end, once he is reformed and everyone can live happily ever after, Scrooge claims, “If you need to know/ The measure of a man/ You simply count his friends.”
I know some people think the person with the most friends wins, but really? Especially in the world of Facebook ‘friends’—really?
A quick search found that the most popular, the most liked ‘people’ worldwide according to Facebook include Lady Gaga (5th), Texas Hold’em Poker (1st), and Harry Potter (19th). There is even a Facebook page for “Becoming a fan of odd pages”—with 135 likes.
While I’m grinching about Facebook, please note that the “Abraham ‘Honest Abe’ Lincoln” page has over 40,000 likes, yet the number of likes (or dislikes) Abraham Lincoln receives on Facebook or any other popularity indicator can tell us nothing about his actual skills and principles as a U.S. President.
Moving on to another historical figure, the Emperor Tiberius presumably had any number of friends. In his day, if you weren’t the emperor’s friend, you were probably dead. The Jewish rulers considered this a compelling argument for Pontius Pilate, telling him that if he let Christ go, “You are not Caesar’s friend” (John 19:12).
I could list any number of honest, commendable, and yet completely unrecognized persons, who go about their days, doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing, yet not making a show of just doing what they’re supposed to be doing. They probably have a few friends, more than you’d guess at first sight. Unfortunately, I can’t cite their example, because they are for the most part honest, commendable, and unrecognized.
Even in the Christmas Carol, Scrooge doesn’t become reformed because he gives people fabulous gifts—he gives gifts because he’s been reformed. And, while Scrooge becomes a very nice, very friendly gentleman after his reform, even remembering the “cheeses for us meeces,” we know from other stories that gift-friendships often disappear after the gifts end.
So, if it makes your Christmas shopping any easier—you don’t have to buy everyone you know something fabulous, just so they’ll be your ‘friend.’ There's only one friend that really matters, and he was the original Christmas gift.