Take-Aways from George Bailey

It’s a Wonderful Life has been a meaningful part of my Christmas season for decades.  I find as I get older small things such as my love for this classic are enduring.  Every year I’m inspired by George Bailey and his truly blessed life.  George is a regular guy with big dreams who feels beholden to do the right thing, which often means foregoing his own desires.  Even as a kid, George Bailey is an unintentional hero who risks his own well-being for the greater good.  He still wishes for a million dollars like everyone else does.  Hot dog! Opportunities to make a difference in other’s lives are usually unexpected, but I love this movie because we and George get to see the impact of his actions.  That there are often unknown ripple effect of our actions is my truth, but then movies and books have gifted me with what some people deem as an unrealistic outlook.  I call those people “cynics” and try to ignore them even when life is tough due to my take-the-easy-way-out inability.

But, I know I am not the only one.  In 2007 Vince Gill released a song written by Al Anderson with the chorus, “All that you can take with you is what you give away”, which is very close to a framed quote under the picture of George Bailey’s dad in the Bailey Bros. Building and Loan.  George is sometimes reluctant to give up his plans to “shake the dust from this crummy little town off my feet” and see the world, but by the time he forks over his honeymoon fund during a run on the bank he has embraced his role in Bedford Falls.  Mary’s hair must have smelled heavenly to him when they were on the phone with Sam Wainwright.  His dreams were thwarted so many times by that point that he trades them in to forge a new life path with his bride.  George didn’t forget his desires, his big dreams, but adjusted to life’s reality, a reality rich in intangible treasures.  The George Bailey line I relate to most is when Clarence explains that he knows so much because he is George’s guardian angel and George says, “Well, you look like the kind of angel I’d get”.  I feel ya, George.

Along those same lines is the trouble he faces when Uncle Billy loses the Building & Loan’s deposit.  You would think that after all the good George spread around he might have softened old man Potter’s greedy mean heart, but that is not the way it works, is it?  A person rarely goes against their nature.  It is George’s friends that come through for him, the very ones that motivated his detour.  Sometimes I think my choices have not been appreciated a whit and are likely forgotten.  It’s a Wonderful Life implies that is not the case and if I consider the impact others have had on my life, my dark thoughts are rendered senseless.  I take away so many lessons from George Bailey.  I may be uncertain of my financial future, but no man is a failure who has friends.  Heehaw!

Muppet-Style Capitalism

In an all-too-familiar effort to draw attention away from the world’s economic and political angst Fox Business Network recently accused the Muppets of brainwashing our children with liberal anti-capitalism ideology.  Anchor Eric Bolling kicked off the discussion by stating that the new Muppet movie teaches children class warfare by pitting the iconic Muppets against the villainous and hugely wealthy oil baron Tex Richman.  Walt Disney furthers their anti-capitalist agenda by energizing Miss Piggy, Kermit, and their friends to revive the defunct Muppet Movie Studio or lose it to Tex who will bulldoze it to drill for oil.  The Muppets do not have the $10 million in the bank needed to save the studio , nor are they good friends with Sam Walton’s family, so their only option is to complete repairs on the run-down property and put on a vaudeville-like Muppet Telethon.  I would definitely scrape up some change for the Muppets if they held a telethon and I think my friends would, too.  In short, they work their little felt bottoms off to save the studio.  Angles Tantaros of Fox News agreed with Bolling’s assessment of this diabolical movie, saying “It is brainwashing in its most obvious form.  I just wish liberals would leave little kids alone.”  In the real world where liberal and conservative parents’ wallets have been lightened by the Walt Disney corporation for decades, our littlest capitalists are immune to such imaginings.  My 4-year-old niece said to her mom last week, “You NEVER buy me anything!”  You gotta give her credit.  Perfect timing with Christmas on the horizon and I am all too familiar with her precocious delivery.  What my niece will likely take away from The Muppets movie is that if the Muppets can raise 10 million dollars by working hard then her mom and dad need to try harder so they can provide her with more of what she desires.  This Christmas she desires a touch-screen phone.  Our children are not in any danger of seeing money as a bad thing because of an evil oil baron that The Muppets trounce with hard-work and help from their community.  If anything, Miss Piggy dripping in jewels and wearing sequined high heels with a feather boa will revive the Muppet dynasty for another generation.