People almost never ask me if I am a celebrity. No, I am not, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to be. The truth is, I think we should all be celebrities. We should all be notable for something and known for making a distinct contribution to those around us. In some church congregations I belonged to, I know several members that would say, “Rich? Yeah, he is one of us! We wouldn’t be the same without him.” Before you think I am getting a big head, remember what I just said, I don’t want this for myself. I think we should all be celebrities, people that others celebrate for being in their lives.
But what happens is, to quote my wife’s father’s last statement on this earth, “You work hard all your life and twenty minutes after you die, know one remembers who you were.” Ok, so that is a bit dramatic, but I think most of us expect life to go on without us and for our contributions to be mostly forgotten. Survivors after us will go through their grieving process and later “get on with life.” This is like being a cell in your body, working hard all its short life, then being sloughed off as it is replaced, never to be really missed. I would argue, however, that human beings are not cells the world sloughs off, never to be missed. We are here to make a difference, to fulfill a mission, to turn the course of events.
A great example of making a difference can be seen in one of my father’s all time favorite movies, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” My dad believed that he was here, like George, to make a difference for his family and his community. He worked to that end and accomplished just that. His presence here was significant… and now that he died, there is a gaping hole.
If you can accept my analogy that we are not meant to be like sloughed off body cells, what are we to be like? A hand. A heart. An eye. A kidney or some other vital organ or part. But not a name. Not an artifact. Not a faded memory.
In “It’s A Wonderful Life,” George had an opportunity to see what his life would have been like if he had never been born. His brother would have died in an ice hole, his first employer would have gone to jail, his wife would never been fully loved, his home wouldn’t have been filled with the playing and laughter of children and his bank would have failed, putting others into the streets by the greed of his banking competitor.
If we could all accept this ideal level of notoriety, what would our world be like? Would we then accept the death of these local heroes and heroines day after day without a fight? No. Would we suffer from the loss of leadership we have today? No. Would we find our lives wrapped around the headlines of false celebrities’ rise and fall? No.
Would we put our talents together to find a way to keep their talents with us no matter what it cost us? Yes. Would we put aside our petty differences because the glow of our neighbors was so satisfying? Yes. Would we reach out to notable people of other specialties, races, faiths and practices? Yes. Would we want to live forever with them on this earth? Yes.
Be notable. Do something grand. Be like Ted or George. Make yours a Wonderful Life.