Living in Lebanon during the worst economic crisis ever has reminded me of a theme that has always attracted me to Charles Dickens’ books: social injustice.
I was a child myself the first time I laid my eyes on old copies of Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, and A Tale of Two Cities, laying in an old box of books that had once belonged to my mother. Believe me when I say that the shadow of Tiny Tim kept haunting me for years.
I was perplexed trying to figure out why many families lived in abject poverty, whereas some kept flaunting their extravagance and at the expense of others at times. Not to mention that I was appalled by the exploitation of child labor, pollution, and industrialization.
However, what really breaks my heart is that, almost two centuries later, none of this has really changed. We might sugarcoat things or turn a blind eye as much as we want, but our world is still suffering today as much, if not more than ever.
Clearly, Mr. Dickens was a celebrity, a pioneer, and a talented writer nonetheless—not someone I’d put on a pedestal, knowing that some of his writings were racist and xenophobic.
But even from the worst things in life, something good can be retrieved, and since most of his work was truly brilliant, I found these 15 quotes that touched my heart, moved my soul, and stimulated my mind.
“Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but—I hope—into a better shape.”
“Love, though said to be afflicted with blindness, is a vigilant watchman.”
“There is a wisdom of the head, and…there is a wisdom of the heart.”
“Family not only need to consist of merely those whom we share blood but also for those whom we’d give blood.”
“There was a long hard time when I kept far from me the remembrance of what I had thrown away when I was quite ignorant of its worth.”
“Every traveler has a home of his own, and he learns to appreciate it the more from his wandering.”
“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”
“Least said, soonest mended.”
“The broken heart. You think you will die, but you just keep living, day after day after terrible day.”
“Do all the good you can, and make as little fuss about it as possible.”
“Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.”
“A very little key will open a very heavy door.”
“Reflect upon your present blessings—of which every man has many—not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”
“Never close your lips to those whom you have already opened your heart.”
“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, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on it being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”
The last quote hit home the most since we are currently going through the toughest times in modern history, and yet, just like after the unbearable pains of labor, a miracle will happen and a gift will see the light…hopefully.