AT THIS FESTIVE time of the year I think it is good that we take time to reflect and turn to the Good Book for guidance. Of course, I'm talking about Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." There are some of us who don't understand the messages in the classic.

It's apparent that some on Wall Street forget the words of the sorrowful Marley's Ghost: "Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business."

Holier than thou individuals, politicians and groups, like the Florida Family Association, want to force their versions of morality on America. But as the Ghost of Christmas Present said, "There are some upon this earth of yours, who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us."

Politicians and pundits want to point the blame of America's ills on teachers, schools, the unemployed, the poor, and offer solutions such as training poor students to be school janitors, applications to McDonald's and limiting the right to collective bargaining. Remember the children hidden under the Spirit's robe: "They are man's. And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased."

Remember the sentiments of Scrooge's nephew, who thought of Christmas as "a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it."

This Christmas season let's try to rededicate ourselves to work together to solve our pressing issues. Let's try to see the common humanity in all of us and remember that most of the faceless people you pass on the street are good people. Remember the changed Scrooge's promise: "I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year."

Jim Malazita