It's a Wonderful Life

 

 
 
 

Steve Berry | | Wednesday, December 26, 2007


It epitomizes sentimentality in its purest, sugariness form. It oozes so much sweetness, you_ll need insulin by the end of the last scene. It shamelessly tugs at your chordae tendineae (heartstrings) and will put a lump of edema in your larynx. It_s required viewing for anyone who possesses just a speck of a soul or smack of spirituality -- It_s a Wonderful Life. Thanksgiving has just ended, and you have until the end of December to bear witness to 133 minutes (sans commercials) of unabashedly damn fine, yuletide filmmaking.

If you_re not familiar with this film, then you_re either recovering from a severe head injury, or you have a severe head injury and aren_t recovering.It_s a Wonderful Life is the story of a young man_s frustration with the lack of grandeur in his life. In this 1946 Frank Capra classic, James Stewart portrays a young man who views himself as being trapped in a small hometown existence, never being on the receiving end of opportunity and never going anywhere or doing anything meaningful.

George Bailey feels trapped, immobile and made to feel secondary to the whims of others (sounds like the actions of dispatch to me).George is a nice guy -- a likable dude -- and an honest, down-to-earth kind of fella who wants only one thing and one thing only -- to get a Red Ryder, carbine-action, 200-shot range model air rifle. No, wait, wrong movie.

George spends his life serving his community for little pay, and for the most part, receives no recognition for his efforts to help those less fortunate.Despite working every day of the week, and often into the wee hours of the night, the call to help others never seems to lessen. Throughout the film, George saves a few lives: He saves his brother from the icy water of a river and prevents an accidental drug poisoning from being given to a patient by pharmacist Mr. Clark Griswald Ú no, wait, wrong character and wrong movie.

George even risks his life to save an angel in the form of an ordinary old man from drowning when he himself was contemplating suicide. The movie stresses that George is never in full control of the accidents and circumstances that surround him daily. Through it all, George never sacrifices other people_s problems for his own personal ambitions, although his high school friends have moved on to make lots of money in plastics and managed health care. What a guy, huh?

Are you getting the analogical connection yet, or do I have to hit you over the head with a halo? (Some of you may be thinking, why do the cop Bert and the taxi driver Ernie from the movie share the same names astwo Sesame Street characters, but that_s too creepy a parallel to contemplate, so focus on my analogy.)

George typifies those who serve as prehospital care providers. Maybe not as thin, but the correlation is the same. George even has moderate hearing loss. Not a siren-induced hearing loss mind you, but a hearing loss all the same.

More importantly, George embellishes the same values and personality traits as most of us. Unfortunately, not all of them are healthy attributes. Carrying the responsibility of caring for others can be crippling -- especially if you keep those profound burdens hidden from the folks in your life.

But George was lucky. He not only had the opportunity to see how things might have turned out if he had never been born, but he was also able to have all the people he positively affected suddenly appear at his doorstep and rally around him in his hour of need (despite the fact that he didn_t have enough eggnog to go around). Unfortunately, most of the people we_ve greatly impacted will never gather around us. They_ll forever remain anonymous.

Similar to the movie, our profession embodies the simple truth that giving is better than taking, and everyone from the richest to the poorest is equally important.

Our guardian angels, like George_s, don_t have wings, but that_s where the similarity stops. Our guardian angels aren_t invisible, although they may appear to be at times. Family and fellowEMS providers are prepared to gather around EMTs and paramedics when chaos overwhelms them, but only if these silent heroes have the courage to admit they can_t go at it alone. Being a hero encompasses the triumph of the common man and acknowledges a plain and simple fact: We_re all in this together.

So, go ahead and watch It_s a Wonderful Life, for the 50th time. And may you always go into a little emotional overload when the greatest line in the movie is spoken: ˙You_re a mean one, Mr. Grinch.Ó No, wait -- wrong movie. I guess you_ll just have to see it for yourself.

Until next time, be safe.


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Related Topics: Lighter Side of EMS, Head and Spinal Injuries

 
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