Quarantining during this time of COVID-19 has provided opportunities to watch some movies that I have always wanted to see. One of those is “It’s a Wonderful Life,” starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed.
I hate to admit that it took me until I was 50 to watch and appreciate this classic. Seeing it now for the first time also was very timely with all that is facing the world.
Most of you know the story: George Bailey, played by Stewart, has so many problems that he is thinking about ending it all – and it’s Christmas! As the angels discuss George, we see his life in flashback. Through the years, George has aspirations to moving from his small hometown and seeking a life of adventure. At first, he remains to preserve the family business, then for the love of his soulmate, Mary.
As George is about to jump from a bridge, his guardian angel, Clarence, turns the tables on him and creates a scenario where George rescues Clarence. While they are drying off, Clarence has the inspiration to show George what his family, friends, and the town would have looked like if it hadn’t been for all his good deeds over the years.
So, Clarence makes Bedford Falls appear as though George had never been born. George and the audience see this dark reflection of the picturesque town, transformed by Old Man Potter’s greed and desire for always more without the kind and giving George’s counterbalance. This vision, and Clarence’s explanation, reminds George of all the good he has done and inspired. The movie shows what one caring person can mean to a community and the people in it. Most importantly, it is a wonderful life George is living.
In this season, when most of us are dealing with some form of depression from isolation, economics, or fear, this movie helped me appreciate how each of us can make a difference in our communities. Simply reaching out to a lonely friend, reassuring a child who feels the strain this time is creating, or merely showing kindness to someone who hasn’t felt it could make all the difference.
It is not just George Bailey who is living a wonderful life. We see that all who give of themselves make the world better and live a wonderful life.
Thankfully, George Bailey had a guardian angel to show him the way. Many others considering suicide do not have such a savior. According to a recent article in Roll Call, the National Alliance on Mental Illness reports its HelpLine has seen a 65 percent increase in calls and emails since March.
If you are having desperate thoughts and are in Oklahoma, please dial 211 to visit someone who can assist you. Suicide should never be an option because, like George Bailey, each of us has made a positive difference in others’ lives, at some level. When reflecting, look at the good you have done and realize the more you do, the better the return.
In the final scene, we see George’s friends coming to his rescue as all the good he had done returned to him. We do not know what tomorrow, or 2021, may bring; but, we do know that whatever may come, we can endure it better if we all help one another. Happy New Year, and may the blessings of peace and prosperity be yours.
About OICA: The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy was established in 1983 by a group of citizens seeking to create a strong advocacy network that would provide a voice for the needs of children and youth in Oklahoma, particularly those in the state’s care and those growing up amid poverty, violence, abuse and neglect, disparities, or other situations that put their lives and future at risk. Our mission statement: “Creating awareness, taking action and changing policy to improve the health, safety, and wellbeing of Oklahoma’s children.”