(Warning: spoilers ahead...and a rant...)
I had a revelation recently while sitting quietly on my sofa watching the 1947 movie “Magic Town”, starring Jimmy Stewart and Jane Wyman.
It had been a while since I’d seen Magic Town and with the addition of Netflix to our Roku I could watch at my leisure. Little did I know how it would haunt me for the next week. The moment Jimmy Stewart’s character, Rip Smith, issued the words, “You can’t go around telling people they’re special, not even these people. It’s deadly.” I knew what a terrible mistake we’d made. The collective WE, I mean.
Frankly, I’ve had it up to here (she says with a see-sawing motion over her towering 5’2” frame) with political correctness. I’m all for doing the right thing, treating each and every individual with kindness. Now…that doesn’t mean I have to agree with their point of view or lifestyle…just that they are entitled to a life free of harassment, as am I. It’s called being civil. No one should have to tell you to be a kind person. And don’t even get me started on the whole “respect thing”. That’s something that has to be earned. So when I heard Mr. Stewart passionately spouting those words…I wept...literally. We’ve been telling our young people for the last 2 or 3 decades how special they are. Everyone gets a trophy. What? You can’t spell? Don’t worry, we’ll use invented spelling. And heaven forbid you make a mistake. Again, no worries, no one will scrutinize you, we’ll gloss over it and find another to blame…your parents, your environment, the government, lack of school funds…
Merciful heavens, the list is endless.
No one has a sense of personal responsibility anymore. Everyone wants a caretaker of some sort. Worst of all, we are in denial. Are we afraid to to take off the blinders and see what we've become? Or are we actually proud of our selfish and self absorbed attitudes?
So what’s the next step? How do we correct the injustice we’ve dealt our families, neighbors…country? Honestly...I don't know. The pit we've dug is deep. In the movie, once the town’s folk find out how “special” they are they start behaving…well…crazy. They become self absorbed, over confident…proud. Then they take a very large fall, learning a lesson in humility. Ashamed by their behavior, they turn inward, locking themselves away from each other, shutting out the world as best they can. It’s only when they decide to move ahead with a previously planned project that they begin to reclaim their self respect. They do it on their own, admitting their mistakes and foolishness. Knowing it could take years to complete their project, without outside help or funds, they donate their time and money in hopes of redeeming the town, and in the process, themselves. There is a lot to be said for self sufficiency and selflessness. It’s not only good for the soul; it’s a good character (and muscle) builder.
I think we need to find our souls again…ourselves…
One other thing…we don’t talk to each other anymore.
I watched that sweet little movie town of Grandview go from a close-knit community to barely looking each other in the eye. We’re not so different. The fact that you’re sitting in front of a screen right now instead of in the next room playing Canasta with a group of friends speaks volumes. I’m not insulting you…don’t be overly defensive…I’m sitting here, too! Once again, how do we fix this? For one…I’d like to noogie whoever invented texting. And how ever did we live without cell phones, computers (I say ironically), mp3 players…you name it…any little device that has a screen and sucks us away from reality…the present. Isn’t it time we start looking each other in the eye? Isn’t it time we find out who our neighbors are?
I don’t know. The movie affected me. Infected me.
With everything going on in our country right now, in our world right now…doesn’t it make you think?