Many of us enjoy movies with a message. Since it's Christmas time, I was reminded of my own joy in watching old Holiday movies that remind me of valuable life lessons. Two of the best ones, as far as I am concerned, are A Christmas Carol and It's a Wonderful Life.
When we first meet George Bailey, the protagonist of It's a Wonderful Life, we can't help but like him. He is an ethical, hard-working son from a good family, who happens to save his brother's life.
One of the first things we learn about George is that his passion is world travel. He is an "explorer" at a very young age and just can't wait to spread his wings to travel the globe. It's all he talks about. His determination held out even as a brief tragedy, the death of his father, delayed him. His younger brother gets to pursue his dreams ahead of him.
By now, viewers are feeling a bit sad and frustrated on behalf of this super guy. We want him to have his dream, to get out of Dodge and see the world.
But his plans are once again dashed when he falls in love with a local girl. Between that wrench and the dilemma of "doing the right thing" by his Dad's legacy, he settles into a life of domesticity and small-town existence. He doesn't even get to have his thoughtfuly planned honeymoon!
George's life bears little resemblance to what he may have envisioned, so is what happened his true purpose? Or did his life's meaning take a detour? How are we to assess his life, other than by the results that unfold and demonstrate his value to so many? How else could his true purpose be revealed other than precisely how it did? ?