Essay:It's a Wonderful Life

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At various times, I've felt like writing an essay analyzing It's a Wonderful Life because there are so many aspects of it that trouble/bother me. E.g., the bank's financial condition is obviously marginal if $800 would make or break it. Don't banks borrow from other banks? Why can't he do that? Will these poverty-stricken neighbors of his be able to continue bailing him out every time he has a financial crisis, or will their resources too eventually be exhausted?

The statement "Remember, no man is a failure who has friends" also irks me because it seems like an overgeneralization. Suppose there are two criminals who spend their lives breaking into people's cars and stealing their stuff. They're not particularly happy people either, because they always worry about getting caught and sometimes they can't find any cars to break into. They may be the best of buddies to each other, but they're miserable and causing a lot of misery to others in this world. If one judges the success of a person by how much happiness one brings about, they are failures, even though they have friends (i.e. each other).

Of course, that situation isn't applicable to Bailey, because he is a benefactor rather than a malefactor. But that's my point -- Bailey's accomplishments WITH THE HELP OF his friends were what made him successful. Clarence could just say, "No one who accomplishes that much awesome stuff in his life is a failure" but then the viewer might think, "Gee, I don't accomplish that much awesome stuff. This doesn't give me much solace." But if Clarence says, "No one is a failure who has friends" that's a standard almost anyone can easily meet, because most of us have at least one friend (this movie may unfortunately not be of much comfort to the kind of estranged elderly person whose death will not even be noticed until the mail starts piling up).

There are some people the world really would have been better off without, or who were useful to society at one point, but now have become useless or worse than useless, even to themselves. That's one of the reasons why euthanasia exists, and why its availability should be even further expanded. If nothing else, it would help prevent people from inadvertently maiming themselves when they intended their plunge from a bridge to be fatal. There are no known cases of the euthanasia drug pentobarbital failing to kill when administered according to specifications.

Notice that Bailey wasn't able to explicitly tell any of his friends, "I'm planning on killing myself." That's partly because suicide is illegal, and if you go around saying such things, you'll be thrown into a mental hospital. In real life, there is no Clarence, so in such a situation, he would have jumped off the bridge, because the prayers would have accomplished nothing other than easing the conscience of the devout.

If he had been able to be honest about his intentions without provoking civil commitment, then people could have had a chance to tell him the same stuff that Clarence told him, and given him the money he needed. But in the real world, people usually don't respond well to expressed suicidal ideation, even when they don't alert the authorities. They would've said unhelpful stuff like "It's always darkest before the dawn," "Think about your family instead of being selfish," "You're just seeking attention," "Suicides go to Hell," "If you were serious about wanting to kill yourself, you wouldn't be talking about it," "Let's say the serenity prayer together," etc.

Also, why didn't Bailey say "How do I know any of this stuff you show me is even true? This could all be the kind of Satanic ploy that 2 Corinthians 11:14 warned about. Where are your angelic credentials? For all I know, if I hadn't been born, circumstances would have been so altered that Harry wouldn't have even gone sledding that day, Mary would have married an even better guy, etc. Given the Butterfly effect, who knows how many things would have been different?"

Also, don't most life insurance policies have a clause making them void if the person commits suicide?