It’s A Wonderful Life
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:
It’s a busy week in South Dakota. There are Christmas gatherings to attend, cards to be sent and presents yet to be purchased. In schedules more hectic than usual, many of us will make time to honor our own Christmas traditions – from decorating the Christmas tree, to watching a particular Christmas movie, to singing carols or baking treats. In many families, one tradition is watching “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
“It’s a Wonderful Life” is the story of George Bailey who repeatedly chooses to sacrifice his own dreams, so that he can help others. When his father dies, George surrenders his plans to travel the world, instead taking his late father’s job at a small bank. The town scrooge, Mr. Potter, wants to shut down the bank and ultimately frames George for funds lost by George’s inept Uncle Billy.
The circumstances lead George to wish he had never been born. A guardian angel grants that wish, and then shows George what life in Bedford Falls would have been if George had never existed. All the people he had helped were worse off and two died prematurely because George had never been born. His wife never married nor had children. And the villain, Mr. Potter, ruled the entire town because no one kept him in check.
Sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking that the work of changing the world is solely the realm of elected officials. But I think it’s the every-day kind of people like George Bailey who make the real difference.
The things that South Dakotans do best, like lending a helping hand to a neighbor and putting others first, are the things that effect positive change. The man that shovels his neighbor’s driveway, the little girl who gives her allowance to the bell ringer and the church that opens its doors to someone without shelter – they’re the ones with the real power.
We’re all busy, especially during this time of year. But find time this Christmas, if only in a small way, to be a George Bailey to someone in need. I’m sure you won’t regret it. Don’t underestimate the immense value of your life and the difference you can make. It truly is a wonderful life.