George loves his family and his friends, and he always wants to do what is right and to help them when he can. Though he wants to leave Bedford Falls, he loves the town in which he grew up. He cares about the fate of those he is to leave behind. But his love is not perfect. (Is anyone on earth's love perfect, really?) He holds some bitterness, some anger about the sacrifices he's made throughout his life. It's only through Divine intervention that his heart is truly changed. When his guardian angel shows him that his sacrifices have made a great difference in the lives of those he loves (remember that George's motivation was still that his family would be better without him), he abandons his misguided ideas about his worthlessness. God measures by a different yardstick than we do. Clarence is able to show George that his ends will not justify his means, that his life is meaningful, that he has made a difference in the world.
George's life really didn't look successful. He was poor, he was stuck in a small town with extremely limited possibilities. He and his wife went without some of the comforts that other families in their own neighborhood had. And yet his life was a great success when you look at it as God might. He loved his neighbor, helped anyone he could, had a family who loved him, never turned his back on someone in need. He was even willing to protect Uncle Billy by taking responsibility for Billy's mistake!
In today's society, most people would look at George the way George saw himself. Lots of potential, living up to none of it. However, our culture is wrong, and this recession might help people see that. We live in a culture that says he who dies with the most toys, wins. It's a lie.
On Black Friday, Travel Man and I watched news reports showing people waiting to buy stuff at a discount. Camping out all night. Rushing through doors. Hurting (even killing) people along the way. For what?
Well, one woman said that things were tight for her family. She's unemployed, her unemployment checks are being divided between her own family and family members in another state who need help. And she was in line to buy an iPod Touch for her son because "it was all he asked for for Christmas." You can hardly buy groceries, but you're buying an iPod Touch? Seriously?
It's going to come crashing down on a lot of people, this recession. And I think that God will use it for great good. There are some people who have to be reminded that there are more important things than the commercialism we're presented with. What makes us well-off isn't the cars we drive or the vacations we take or the things we own. It's faith, first and foremost, and family and love of neighbor.
Instead of striving to be like Mr. Potter, who owned most of Bedford Falls, we need to strive to be like George Bailey, who owned nearly nothing, but was the richest man in town. He was a greater success than Potter could ever dream of.