If You Met George Bailey's Angel Clarence, What Would You Ask For

The opening scene in ‘Its A Wonderful Life’ is a star studded sky looking down on the pleas and prayers of the world. We all know how Clarence earned his wings by saving George Bailey, but what might you and I hope from our own Clarence?

Sure, sure, there are the usual suspects. Like world peace…an end to government gridlock…good health. But in the end it’s altogether likely we would ask: “How can I get the world to know I’m a really good person?” It’s the sort of yearning one feels among their many daily venues: at home…at work…on the expressway…in the stadium…on a sales call….at a conference…playing golf…wherever we are interfacing with our fellow humans.

Billions of dollars have been spent in writing and advising people how to be liked. It’s some deep-rooted evolutionary appetite for being safe in an unsafe world. However, what complicates our need to be liked is we are not always the same person in these different settings among different people at different times. Each situation calls for a different us to step up. It’s why people are so surprising to see a bruising football player caressing a baby…a “quiet neighbor” turn up in the murder headlines….a reunion where peers remember us so differently than we remember ourself.

Shakespeare has Polonius advise his son: “To thine own self be true, and it must follow as the night the day thou canst not then be false to any man.” A great line until it’s your turn to deliver on it.

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