It’s a Wonderful Life
During the Christmas holidays, what better film to contemplate the teachings of the dharma than the classic, It’s a Wonderful Life? As we know, the film tells the story of George Bailey (played in a great performance by Jimmy Stewart) who is deeply distraught over the loss of an $8000 loan and the cruel vindication that is sure to come from Bedford Falls’ evil millionaire, Mr. Potter. As George contemplates ending his life in order to escape what he feels will be unending suffering, the guardian angel, Clarence, appears to reveal what the small world of Bedford Falls would have been like if George had never existed. Dharmically, the wonderful thing about this film is that the archetypal characters allow us to place ourselves in the story and ask, which character am I most like? The miserly Mr. Potter whose selfish ways and obsession with money cause suffering in others? Or am I like George, the average person who forgets her or his immense value to the world? Or perhaps we relate to Clarence, the guardian angel who, realizes that in order to earn his wings he must help George to see the value of his life and his contributions to the world and people around him. Chances are, we are all a bit of all three.