You can tell a lot about a person by their choice of favourite Christmas movie.
Elf and they are likely to have a refreshingly juvenile sense of humour. Die Hard and they’re either arguably confused about what constitutes a Christmas movie or simply have a yearning for yuletide action. Bad Santa and while they’d undoubtedly be great fun to share a drink with, it’s probably best to keep the remote control away from them if Granny is joining you for dinner.
But there is one film that regularly wins any poll for the greatest Christmas movie of all time and I must confess that it has me blubbing like a baby at least once a year. It’s a Wonderful Life has been with us since 1947 and yet somehow its values and messages of kindness, resilience and community spirit seem more pertinent than ever.
Because in truth life wasn’t always that wonderful for the main character George Bailey. He spent his entire life selflessly putting his own dreams and ambitions to one side to do the right thing by the people he loved, worked with and the community he sought to protect from the dangers posed by the cynically cruel, villainous, megalomaniac Mr Potter.
When a desperately harsh financial blow made it seem as though George might unfairly go to jail, he mistakenly feels that the people in his life would be better off without him.
Up steps Clarence his guardian angel second class to show George what a world without him would look like. How every hardship he endured or sacrifice he made meant a world of difference to the world he inhabits. (Spoiler alert) After this George gets to witness just how valued he is by everyone in his community coming together to repay his kindness (by which point I’m generally choking back the tears) while a bell ringing on a Christmas tree signals that angel Clarence has finally won his wings.
Okay. So what on earth has this got to do with how we look after each other at work?
Well for starters it is incredibly rare for the hero in any Hollywood movie to be portrayed as having a mental health issue so George’s example and that of how his friends and family gathered to help him recover is a healthy lesson for us all.
Equally, we are all sometimes similarly guilty of forgetting that the positive contributions we make to health and safety potentially make a world of difference to the people we work with. Or we might assume that because no one got hurt what difference does it make what we do.
But without a Clarence to show us what might have happened we will probably never know how we saved a life or stopped someone getting hurt. So perhaps we need to start to think differently and trust that our kindness through positive engagement matters to all the people in the world we inhabit. And who knows perhaps we can help the odd angel or two win their wings at the same time.
Happy Christmas From Everyone at Lattitude Safety.