Is it a Wonderful Life?

It’s that time of year when we roll out Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. What enduring lessons does “It’s a Wonderful Life” teach us?

We all have a profound impact on the universe, even if we don’t realize it. Every life has meaning. Even the Mr. Potters of the world have a role to play. If we trust our gut and try to do what we think is right, we may not swim in material wealth, but the intrinsic riches we earn can be priceless.

“It’s a Wonderful Life” is not a tale of saccharine proverbs; it’s a celebration of hope emerging from the darkest corners of despair. The movie finds its light not by ignoring the dark but by defiantly confronting it. The scenes of joy and love are not isolated from the two hours of struggle and despair but are born out of them.

The film reminds us how light can exist in defiance of the dark, hope in defiance of despair. Far from being an escapist fantasy, the film reflects a realism that acknowledges the very real pain and darkness we confront in our world. It teaches us that the value of light is heightened when juxtaposed against the shadows.

Life may not be “Wonderful” if your definition is tension relieving and not goal achieving. Frank Capra’s classic reminds us of that discomfort and inconvenience are part of the deal. George Bailey is a poster boy for the value of exploring the profound interplay between despair and hope.