These days, “It’s a Wonderful Life” poses quite a few particularly relevant questions. Not only are we in the midst of a bustling Holiday season, but we are also coping with the fall out from an extremely divisive political campaign. With that, comes a lot of angst, a lot of questioning, a lot of fear of the known-unknown. The world never ceases to be filled with mountains, valleys and deep, hidden fissures. Whether the 1940’s or the 2010’s (Is that what we’re calling the present? I think not.), Nikka Costa sang it best with “Everybody Got Their Something.”
Is the stress of your today more significant, more valuable than your neighbor’s? Than that of the individuals who have come before you? George Bailey is forced to reckon with such a dilemma– his humanity — when he visits a Present void of all traces of the man-formerly-known-as-George.
Watching Jimmy Stewart run through the snowy, Bedford Falls streets, encourages me to unload my 2016 baggage, to free up some space in my heart and usher in a new, different year. I worry that people living in the present-time discount the past– either as a way to rid themselves of guilt, association or future faults. Theoretically, “It’s a Wonderful Life” takes place at the height of World War II. That was no easy time– at war or on the home front.
The 2016 struggle is real, but it’s also…it’s passing. It will pass. And it will pass with action as well as time. If you want to tell your grandchildren that you survived the trials and tribulations of a rocky 2016, feel free! But do remember that your grandparents survived, potentially, the Great Depression. World War II. The Vietnam War. Two Presidential impeachments. Reagan’s Star Wars. And so. Much. More. You can do it!
The days are long, but the years are short, and this is your life. Do what you can to make your world a better place, and stop pausing to pity the state of things. What good does that do anyone? Fold yourself into the warmth of this season. What would the lives of your family and friends, acquaintances even, be like without your input throughout the past year?
Make like George Bailey, because it really is a wonderful life. Hee-haw.