December 19, 2019

It’s a Wonderful Life

Among my all-time favourite movies is It’s a Wonderful Life. I watch it every year to get me into the Christmas spirit, usually while I am wrapping presents.

In case you have been living under a rock since it’s a release in 1946, the movie is the story of George Bailey, an all-around good guy, played by Jimmy Stewart, who has series of misfortunes befall him. He tries to take his life, but is rescued by an angel, Clarence. To intercede, Clarence shows George the world as it would have been had he never existed. As it turns out, George’s friends and family and even his whole town had pretty miserable lives without George’s existence. Clarence sums it up: “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”

Forgive me my Christmas flight of fancy, but the movie got me thinking: what if there had been no Ottawa Humane Society?  What if those heroic women back in 1888 never existed, or never took it upon themselves to form the OHS? And what if no one after them saw the need or took the time and effort to create a humane society in Ottawa?

I think, like Pottersville in the movie, Ottawa might be a pretty bleak place. Homeless animals might be wandering the streets, possibly now feral, certainly homeless, and likely abused. Overall animal suffering would be immense, without legislation to protect them. Children may be suffering too, because without a humane society, there would have been no voice against child labour and no parent for a children’s aid society. People might be pretty nasty in Ottawa as whole generations would have grown up without humane education to build caring and compassion.

Nope, not a place I would want to live in. I’m much happier in the Bedford Falls that is Ottawa — a town I hope and I believe is a kinder, happier place because of caring people who took the time to create the Ottawa Humane Society and friends who continue to support its work and its ideals. You, our friends, ensure that the OHS does not fail in its mission. We won’t, because, remember: no one is a failure who has friends.

Bruce Roney
President and CEO