Tag Archives: It’s A Wonderful Life

The Cost of Compassion

A particular scene from my favorite movie (“It’s A Wonderful Life”) has been playing on a loop in my mind.  In that scene, there is a run on the banks and the Bailey Bros. Building & Loan is filled with people wanting their deposited funds.  George Bailey, our protagonist, explains that this is not how the banking system worked; he tells them that they would get their money – which had been loaned to others – in 60 days.   This arrangement is not workable for some, so George gives away his honeymoon money to tide the community over, to save his company and to rescue the town.  The first withdrawal is for the full amount of the account, $242.  The next asks for $40, and the following seeks $20.  Then there is Miss Davis:

George: “What do you need, Miss Davis?”

Miss Davis: “Can I have $17.50?”

I wonder what calculations were made to come up with Miss Davis’ figure.  Why not simply go along with the rest and ask for $20?  What was she doing without so that another person in her community might have $2.50?  I am now, in this time of ‘social distancing’ and ‘stay-at-home’ advisories, doing some quick math myself.  What do I need?  What am I entitled to?  What can I survive without so that another might have what they need?

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4

As I walk (and I am walking alot these days), I come across people who are not maintaining six feet distance between themselves and me.  On those rare occasions that I venture into a grocery stores, I find that some of the shelves are bare of ‘essential goods’, and I am required to go home without purchasing such things as food staples and tissue of every variety while others have been able to maintain a stockpile of Charmin inside their front porch door.  We need more people with the heart of Miss Davis, those who know the extent to their need, acquire just that and conscientiously leave enough for the needs of others.

No one is advocating that we do without what is needed.  No one is seeking to infringe on your rights as an individual to amble where you want and accumulate what you want.  What is being advocated by governmental leaders and healthcare providers is that we practice humility; that we value those around us as much as we value ourselves and look to their interests as much as we look to our own.  As hard as it might be, we all will be better off if we use only what we need and leave the rest for others.  Perhaps that $2.50 could provide 2-ply for an octogenarian or hand sanitizer for the pizza delivery driver.  And besides, ‘social distance’ is free.

As we face another month (or more) of voluntary sacrifice, my prayer is that we will find that it would not be burdensome to keep the wise principles of God’s word (whether they are found in the inspired writings of Paul or the inspiring movies of Frank Capra).  Rather, may we find these truths to be liberating in our lives – body, soul and spirit.

 

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