I was reflecting on life recently and it made me think about one of my favourite movies; a movie that helped shape my life. I am pretty sure most people have seen the 1946 film, It's a Wonderful Life starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. The American Film Institute has named it the most inspirational American film of all time and has become a staple film to watch during the holiday season. I have probably seen it 30-40 times over the years and it still gets me every time.
For those who haven't seen it, the basic plot revolves around George Bailey, who lives in a small town and dreams of seeing the world. He never gets the chance, due to a series of events which force him to choose between leaving home and doing the right thing. George marries his high school sweetheart, has a family and reluctantly takes-over his late father's Savings & Loan business. As his dreams slowly slip away, he gets increasingly down on himself.
As a result of an unintended error, George's Savings & Loan gets into serious financial trouble. George panics and in a moment of desperation, he tries to take his own life. During the course of his life, George was being watched from the heavens by a rookie angel, Clarence, who is given the task of saving George from himself and by doing so, earning his wings.
Clarence cleverly saves George from his intended suicide, and when asked why he attempted it, a defeated George says "I wish I had never been born." Clarence comes up with a brilliant idea to teach George a valuable lesson. We hear a gust of wind, and Clarence tells George that he has his wish, he was never born. As they tour the town, we see a profound change in its look and the behavior of its citizens. Imagine the ancient city of Sodom and Las Vegas combined, in black and white, and you get the grim picture. Clarence shows George all the lives he has touched, and how remarkably different life in Bedford Falls would be if he had never been born. George soon realizes he has made a horrible mistake and begs to get his life back.He is granted his wish, and reunited with his family. All the people he had helped throughout the years come to his rescue and George finally appreciates how much meaning his life has had. Oh, and Clarence gets his wings.
The message in this film and the impact it has had in my own life is profound. Each life has meaningful purpose. For many years now, I have thought about my life and always feel blessed when I have had the opportunity to make a positive difference in someone's life. Helping one another can come about in many ways. Kind words, encouragement, financial support, leadership or even a hug in a moment of need. No matter what ones financial means are, everyone has the ability to touch others in positive ways. For me, it can be as singular as the work we do at the Boy's Club Network in Vancouver Canada, a 1-1 mentoring program for at risk young boys. I volunteer my time and mentor. Or it can be as far-reaching and comprehensive as the work we do at Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership, where we are impacting lives of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, by creating jobs, education and higher incomes. For me, having a positive impact on others is fundamental. It brings me peace and meaning.
Dear Rich People: just think. Wouldn't it be great, especially in the privileged position you're in, to make a point of spending the rest of your life purposefully and positively impacting as many people as possible? To come to the end of your life and look back with pride, that there was a great reason for you to have been born and that you made a mark and perhaps, even changed the world? To have truly lived a wonderful life. In my opinion, it's definitely worth a try and who knows, you might even enjoy the ride.