Be mindful of the lives you touch

Published 2:30 pm Friday, December 17, 2021

I love watching Christmas movies.  And there are quite a few of them.  I’ve been known to watch some even when it wasn’t the holiday season.  They are almost always of the “feel good” variety unless you count “Die Hard” as a Christmas classic.  You know what I mean.  There’s a great story line and there’s a happy ending.  Happy endings are important to me.  How many times have you watched a movie, only to be left hanging at the end with no resolve to the plot?  No ending leaves me very disappointed.  

Other feel-good movies that I have particularly enjoyed include “When Harry Met Sally,” “Toy Story,” “Father of the Bride,” “Trains, Planes and Automobiles” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and of course a Christmas classic, “Christmas Vacation.”  

One of my favorite movies is “It’s a Wonderful Life” starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed.   The plot is that an angel (Clarence) is sent from Heaven to help a desperately frustrated businessman George Bailey (played by Jimmy Stewart) by showing him what life would have been like if he had never existed.  There’s the villain banker, Mr. Potter, who represents evil and greed.  And there’s Mary (Donna Reed), George’s devoted wife.  Do you all know any individuals with these traits?  I know I do, and I’m fortunate that I have a lot of angels who surround me with love and optimism.  

Back to the story line.  Clarence is a down-on-his-luck angel who has yet to win his wings.  He has an incredibly challenging job of guiding George as he reflects on his life to date, which had been fairly ordinary.  But as the plot continues, George has the opportunity to see how his actions significantly impacted many lives.  It is only when Clarence presents to him how things would have been had he never existed that George is able to realize the extent to which his life has indeed been very meaningful.

How many times have we stopped to analyze the impact of our existence?  If you have had a child, that right there is monumental.  That child wouldn’t have existed if not for you.  And think about the impact your birth had on your parents.  Your actions, both big and small, make a difference.  Your kindness and caring have an enormous impact on a daily basis.  If, however, you lack conscience and empathy, that can only be harmful and negative.  

How many times do you hear news reports every day about the crimes and misdeeds of people whose existence bring nothing but misery, despair, and grief?  Can it be these people are without a conscience?  There are so many who have no realization of the anguish they inflict on their fellow humans.  And they seem not to care.

So, as you go about your day-to-day, think of the impact you have on everyone with whom you come in contact.  Sure, it takes only minimal effort to be kind and courteous to random strangers.  But we should all exercise the golden rule of treating others the way you want to be treated.  

What Clarence says is true: “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. And when he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”  Be mindful of the lives you touch and be grateful for those lives that touch you. 

Bonnie Brown writes a weekly column for The Oxford Eagle. She can be reached at bbrown@olemiss.edu.