Sunday, December 07, 2014

It Is A Wonderful LIfe

     I gauge my emotional health on how I react to It's A Wonderful Life. Most years I smile at the familiar sentimentality. On a couple of occasions I've fallen asleep before the climax (that's what she said - BOOM!) This year, I felt George Bailey's desperation. I let out a maudlin sob at the end. The fact that the film  ran on CTV last night, December 6, may say something about our nation's morale. This is the earliest I remember the movie being broadcast.
      Is it just me, or is the news really bad these days? Is anybody else troubled by what's going on in the world? Before you say "'twas ever thus", hear me out.
      The other night I was staring glassy-eyed at the telly, while Dan tapped on his phone. Peter Mansbridge, growing balder by the minute, read this off the teleprompter, in reference to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's call for action on climate change:
            "Ban Ki-moon made it clear -- he has no time for climate change deniers, and no time for any country that doesn't put the survival of the global population before its own domestic wants and needs."
     "Hey, Dan?"
     Tap, tap tappity tap. "Yeah?"
     "Did you just hear what I heard?"
     Tappity tap. "What?"
     "That the survival of the global population depends on countries taking action on climate change."
     "Ban Ki-moon has no time for Canada."
     Tappity tap tap tap.
     "Nothing we can do about it from the couch right now."
     "But. But. never mind  ... good night."
It's stuff like this that made me drink vodka from a jar on the subway. Now I shoot back the strongest chamomile tea I can brew.
     Survival of the global population, huh? I wonder what Ban Ki-moon is trying to say.
     I remember my dad being gripped by the oil crisis in the 1970s. Aged ten and wanting to appear precocious, I followed the news and attempted to express my outrage at rising oil prices. "Dad, this is a damned situation," I remember saying, it being the first time I used a curse word at home. My father responded to my trenchant commentary by grabbing me by the scruff of the neck and shoving a bar of soap in my mouth. I think I offered my opinion a year or two later about Watergate, something I had no understanding of either.
     What is a person to do about the survival of the global population, at 10:15 p.m. on a Thursday?
     Not much. 
     But as George Bailey and It's A Wonderful Life demonstrates, it can go one of two ways:
     1) Jump off a bridge.
     2) Make a difference in the lives of others through acts of courage, generosity and kindness.
     I'll take door number two, Monty.
     And I'll watch reruns of Seinfeld before bed.