Monday, June 17, 2013

Monday's Quote: When the Problem is Too Big

I've been reading The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett with Sarah Beth, and we've come to the part of the story where Sara has become destitute after her father dies.  Whenever I read this part (and I have read it before), it strikes me how little anyone does to help her.  In this quote, two of Sara's neighbors are discussing her situation, specifically her miserable attic room, after it has come to their attention.  Mr. Carrisford starts with,
"I wonder how many of the attics in this square are like that one, and how many wretched little servant girls sleep on such beds, while I toss on my down pillows....

"My dear fellow," Mr. Carmichael answered cheerily...., "If you possessed all the wealth of all the Indies, you could not set right all the discomforts in the world, and if you began to refurbish all the attics in the square, there would still remain all the attics in all the other squares and streets to put in order.  And there you are!"  (emphasis mine)
In other words, since Carrisford cannot improve every little servant girl's situation, he shouldn't do anything to help Sara.

I wonder how often we fall victim to this type of thinking, "Since whatever problem is so great, there is nothing that little me can do, so I just won't even try."  Yet, Sara's lot would have improved immensely if these men had just tried -- which they do a little later in the book, and it changes her life even before they figure out who she is.

I don't know whether Burnett meant this book as a social commentary as Charles Dickens did with his books, but now I pray that God would open my eyes to the people around me, that I would see their needs and help them as I am able.  I may not be able to help everyone in the world, but I can help the one person in front of me.

Have you read this book?  What did you think?

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