I have an affection for vintage movies, the old black and white movies where legends performed for the silver screen back when it cost ten cents to get into the local movie theater and most people went to the movies often. One of my favorites is "It's A Wonderful Life" with George Bailey. Although it's a Christmas film, a classic that airs each season to new audiences, it's also something more - a portrait of small town life.
Although we live in Neosho and not the fictional Bedford Falls and although it's spring, not Christmas time, I see some small wisdoms in the film that we can all take to heart.
For those who may not have seen the movie, here's a brief synopsis - George Bailey is an average small town man, one who dreamed of traveling the world and graduating from college as an architect. He wanted to build things and to shake the dust of his hometown from his feet as soon as possible.
Circumstances, however, put an end to his dreams and George ends up running the building and loan that his father and uncle founded. Bailey Brothers Building and Loan struggles against the richest man in town, Mr. Potter. And, just when George despairs, an angel is dispatched from heaven to show him that he has had a wonderful life. how many lives he has impacted in ways he never realized.
On George's wedding day, there's a run on the bank and the local folks gather at the building and loan. They're scared and they want one thing - their money. After George explains why that's not easily provided, he calms the crowd and utters these words:
"Now, we-we can get through this thing all right. We've, we've got to stick together, though. We've got to have faith in each other!"
Bailey is speaking about the bank run and the looming economic hardships of the Great Depression.
In Neosho and in the 2020 United States, we're staring at a pandemic, one larger than most of us have ever experienced in our lifetimes unless we are among the handful of older folks who were alive in 1918-1919.
There's rampant anxiety. There's fear of COVID-19, the respiratory disease that has affected people around the globe and is now spreading through our nation. There are some areas affected more than others but in the past week, the first cases were announced in Jasper, Newton and McDonald counties.
It's here, in our corner of Southwest Missouri. We hear conflicting reports from the media. We fear the sickness, for ourselves and for our loved ones.
Our lives have altered in just over two weeks. We're seeing shortages on store shelves, we're hearing about staying at home, about social distancing, and sheltering in place. Most of us can't attend church services. visit the library, gather in groups more than 10, go to school or even to work. Business owners are worried and it's very possible this pandemic may result in an economic downturn or a recession.
But as a community we are strong and we can listen to George Bailey's advice. We can remember that we can get through this thing all right, that we need to stick together and to have faith in one another.
-Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy is the community editor for The Neosho Daily News and The Aurora Advertiser. She is also a published author and freelance writer.