"He’s already got charge of the bank. He’s got the bus line.
He got the department stores. And now he’s after us."
- George Bailey, "It's A Wonderful Life," 1946
We just went through another "Black Friday," so called, the first day of the Christmas sale season, when the stores are supposed to get the boost in sales that lets them finish the year in the black. That's what the Advent season has become for many Americans, a time to find sales and bargains instead of hope, love, peace and joy, the four cornerstones of true Christian faith and true Christmas spirit.
James Stewart's George Bailey understood this true meaning of Christmas, as when he told off Mr. Potter, a wealthy businessman who derided George's father for not having made a fortune. George replied: " People were human beings to him. But to you, a warped, frustrated old man, they're cattle. Well in my book, my father died a much richer man than you'll ever be!"
Today, the American business corporation sees its customers as just so much cattle to be milked, and for too many of us that's just fine, as with all the crowds and long lines at the shopping malls this past Friday. The bankers and retailers, just as George Bailey said, are after us. They're after our money but they are also taking something far more precious from us when they turn us into cattle, stampeding over each other seeking bargains.
The following song from Professor Gordon Ourside captures the true Christmas spirit of 21st Century America, taking George Bailey out of his mid-20th Century small town and dropping him into the Times Square subway station at five-fifteen on Black Friday,. Click on this link.
Here are the lyrics if you'd like to sing along:
Along came the I.R.T., a-cannonballing through,
Right under Forty-Second Street, from Flatbush Avenue.
At five-fifteen on Black Friday, it pulled into Times Square.
The shoppers filled the station, and George Bailey he was there.
Mr. Macy and the bankers, just had to sell and lend.
They drove those Christmas shoppers to borrow and to spend.
They drove the Christmas shoppers into a mad stampede,
Filled with the Christmas spirit of avarice and greed.
The shoppers filled the station, the scene was just insane.
George used his elbows and his knees until he reached the train.
But when he stepped up to the door, he could not pass on through.
The driver shut the door on him, and cut poor George in two.
The train pulled out of Times Square, the swiftest on the line.
It carried George's head along, and left his booty behind.
George Bailey died a tragic death, and the witnesses they all say
The words he said with his dying breath were "God Damn Black Friday!"
Now if you ride the I.R.T. this merry Christmas Day,
Remember poor George Bailey's fate, then bow your head to pray.
For George's butt sits 'tween the tracks, amidst the dust and goo,
And his head's still riding out and back from Flatbush Avenue.
George Bailey died a grizzly death, but he did not die in vain,
For the meaning still comes to us yet, through all his fear and pain.
'Tis a message that's both sad and cruel, the moral of this tale.
In America the market rules, and Christmas is for sale
Here, on Black Friday, George meets a fate far worse than the suicide he contemplated in the Frank Capra movie, and there's no guardian angel Clarence to rescue him from that fate, a death of the spirit as well as the flesh..