Michael Jr. was getting increasingly frustrated with humanity (and probably not the only one). Over his lifetime it seemed that people were continually growing in selfishness and entitlement while ignoring the importance of community and sharing. It was as if people somehow didn’t grasp that you shouldn’t yell or eye roll at someone you love because love is about patience, kindness and self-control and those aforementioned behaviors are the opposite of love. Every time Michael Jr. overheard someone say “I love you,” he wanted to ask, “Do you really love them? Are you patient and kind with them? Otherwise, you’re just saying words that sound nice that make you feel better about yourself.” He never actually asked that out loud to anyone, but he wanted to, and everyday he got a little bit closer because his frustration was steadily increasing. To make matters worse, he was no longer at a younger age when his schedule was full of fun distractions like halo cleaning, harp lessons, and how to keep your whites sparkling white. Now he had more time to think about how bad people were becoming and he couldn’t escape the nagging thought that something needed to change. He wanted people in general to be better, but he didn’t know how to help them until one day he had the perfect idea… at least it seemed like the perfect idea in his head.
Michael Jr. had always enjoyed the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, but that was normal. Every angel did. It wasn’t very often an angel got to be the hero. Sure, it wasn’t the most accurate portrayal of angels, but it was nice to be remembered. The biggest flaw in the movie was the lesson that a bell ringing meant an angel got its wings, but it was a cute idea on the surface. At least, it was cute to most angels. It actually added to Michael Jr.’s anger towards people. Whether it was true or not, if this was a belief why weren’t they regularly ringing bells to help angels get their wings? Didn’t they care about angels?
One of the things that bothered angels, in general, was that Western culture increasingly ignored the idea of higher spiritual beings. It was like Western culture was only about sparkly distractions, coping with something, serving selfish ambitions, and/or keeping up with self-imposed busy schedules. It didn’t make sense to angels, but then again, it was harder for them to be distracted from higher spiritual things when they were themselves higher spiritual things. Humans struggled to see the bigger picture, especially when their priorities consisted of impressing others and looking happy on social media instead of actually being happy people who lived good and caring lives. If happiness comes from being a good person who makes good decisions, there was a reason the world was in short supply of it.
Early in that Christmas season, Michael Jr. was watching It’s a Wonderful Life and wishing he could be like Clarence (the angel in the movie) because that character was able to make a difference for someone, which is when he had his “perfect” idea. Michael Jr. decided not to tell anyone his plan even his friends because he wanted to show everyone what he was capable of doing on his own. After all, he was the son of the great angel, Michael. He had quite the shoes to fill, and this idea made him excited because he was sure this would help him do that.
Michael Jr.’s plan was officially revealed December first at a typical American city theater that was playing It’s a Wonderful Life to help get people in the Christmas spirit. At the end of the movie, right before the credits started, there could be heard what sounded like the snapping of fingers. The movie paused, and what seemed like a spotlight was shining at the front of the theater, which was strange because the theater didn’t own a spotlight. Standing in the light was Michael Jr. dressed in his best sparkly white suit. After a brief moment to let people’s eyes adjust, Michael Jr. began speaking in a voice that sounded like he was using a microphone when he wasn’t. “Good evening humans who enjoy Christmas movies.”
“What is this?” yelled an annoyed man near the middle of the theater.
Pretending not to hear the rude man’s comment, Michael Jr. continued, “This movie is very uplifting.”
“Seriously, what is this?” yelled the annoyed man. Annoyed, Michael Jr. snapped his fingers. The man started rising out of his chair until he was five feet in the air where he simply floated. “What’s going on?… Put me down!” he demanded. Again Michael Jr. snapped his fingers. Suddenly, the rude man was wearing a muzzle and could no longer speak as he dangled above his seat.
Michael Jr. could tell he had lost his audience who was now staring at the floating, muzzled man, so in a commanding voice he stated, “I am speaking and you will listen.” As he said this, a pair of large, brightly shining wings appeared from behind his back and now framed his pristine sparkly white suit.
“Oooh, a light show,” cheered someone.
Everyone forgot about the floating man and became fixated on Michael Jr.
“I love this movie. It’s encouraging and it gives hope that people have value, and that message… is total crap. If most of you weren’t born, the world would be fine. If some of you passed away today, the world would be a better place. People are given so much potential and freedom, yet you squander it on selfishness and stupidity. I’m here to tell you a message: You need to change or you will reap what you sow like that guy,” Michael Jr. pointed at the man he had muzzled and suspended in the air. “He’s the bad guy from the movie. He’s the Mr. Potter of the real world: miserable, mean, and sucking the life out of good people. You can be better! You can be like George Bailey and Mary Hatch. You need to be. You need to learn how to love by showing patience, kindness, and self control. If you don’t… well, watch out.” And as suddenly as Michael Jr. showed up, he was gone.
There was a good five seconds of stunned silence before there was a frenzy of reactions. Some people ran out of the theater terrified. Some people stormed off and demanded free passes from the manager for having their movie disrupted. Some people sat in the seats too stunned to move while others started posting on social media about what just happened. A number of these people had tried to take a photo or video, but Michael Jr. made sure only his voice could be recorded. On a screen, he was a bright blur. When the phone users discovered this, there was a lot of swearing. And everyone seemed to forget “Mr. Potter” who was still floating silently above the seats… until one person took a picture and then everyone left in the theater was taking pictures of him to post as the evidence of what had happened that night.
As the shock of the experience started to settle, many of the people who saw what happened assumed it was a stunt by the movie theater, but the management and staff adamantly claimed no knowledge of this and were just as surprised by the story as anyone else. Many people who heard witnesses talk about the event assumed they were crazy and dismissed their claims until there were more and more stories of a white suited figure with wings appearing at the end of showings of It’s a Wonderful Life in the area. Each show had someone who had been rude and Michael Jr. muzzled and dangled him in the theatre.
The same thing continued over the next three nights in a row at different theaters across America, and no one was able to get more than an audio recording of the same basic speech. People started making artistic renderings of Michael Jr. and they ranged from a gentle angel to a violent one-eyed, one-horned flying purple people eater who swallowed his victims whole as he dangled them in the air with muzzles. Social media and the news exploded with theories and stories about what was happening. Some people prepared for the impending alien attack as tinfoil became in high demand.
With interest skyrocketing, theatres across the country started showing It’s Wonderful Life in hopes of attracting the hoards of people wanting to see this mysterious visitor who told people they needed to change at the end of the movie. The only problem was sometimes fans would freak out at the end of the movie because they were so disappointed the angel didn’t show up, especially as some had seen the movie over and over hoping to see him in person. After all, the movie is good, but it’s not that good a movie to keep seeing it.
Michael Jr. wanted to avoid the fanfare, so he started going to remote theaters where there might be people who didn’t know about him, but within a few days of his initial reveal it became impossible. News about him was everywhere. At one theater, when he showed up, people starting cheering hysterically because they were so excited to see him. At another theater, police tried to catch him as they had been brought in with the chance he would show up, but he easily thwarted their attempt with a snap of his fingers and he had all the police dangling in the air with muzzles. By the end of the first week, there were copycats – not angel copycats; people were copying him. They didn’t do as well when police were there waiting. The saddest moment was when two copycat angels showed up at the same theater and they got into a fist fight over who got to share the message. Other times when more than one copycat showed up, they shared the moment and led the theater in everyone reciting the original speech. It was easy for fans to memorize the lecture as it had exploded on social media with various cartoons, music video montages, and remixes being made with it. The city where it first happened became a tourist hotspot for being the first sighting and they had all of the typical souvenirs for sale like t-shirts and key chains with sayings like “Ooh, a light show,” which led to accusations that they had staged it for publicity.
Unfortunately, as anything that becomes popular, as many people who loved it, there were those who hated it. After a week of social media dominance, there were protestors showing up at movie theaters wanting the showings to stop. People became so passionate about it, whether for or against, that it wasn’t uncommon for police to have to break up fighting between fans and protestors.
The main problem with Michael Jr.’s message was it led to a sudden increase in negative behaviors in general. For instance, families were torn apart as passionate opinions led to serious disagreements, couples were breaking up after one or both partners would suggest the other person was Mr. Potter and needed to change while they were innocent, and even suicide rates were higher than usual. The country was a mess… or a bigger mess than usual.
In less than a week, Michael Jr. stopped showing up at theaters because he didn’t want to add to the chaos, but it didn’t matter. Things were already set in motion, and people didn’t even seem to notice that he wasn’t showing up anymore because they had made it about themselves – typical human behavior. Being an angel made it easy to avoid humans, but Michael Jr. was so scared about the ramifications in the angel world that he ended up sneaking home. He ended up hiding in his room hoping that the whole thing would be forgotten. Unfortunately, we can never avoid our problems forever.
After hiding in his room alone for most of the day, Michael Jr. heard a knock at his door. He quickly hid in the closet hoping the visitor would go away thinking no one was there – no such luck. After a brief moment, the door opened and his dad, Michael, came in and sat on his bed – nuts. His dad started talking as if he was talking to someone, but he just stared at the wall. “So it seems an angel showed up on Earth almost like in our favourite movie,” shared his dad. Michael Jr. remained silently hidden in his closet pretending that his dad didn’t know he was there and just talking to himself. “It caused quite the kafuffle. It was quite the kafuffle indeed. People are now fighting with their families, jumping off bridges, and my favourite, guys dressed as angels wanting to tell others to live better lives are getting into fist fights. Humans are ridiculous. Fortunately, as an angel, I can see beyond the surface level and understand the intention was to help make the world a better place. People just screwed things up… as they normally do.”
“I just wanted to help!” exclaimed Michael Jr. who temporarily forgot he was trying to hide. Realizing it was futile, he slowly came out of the closet like a puppy that had made a mess on the carpet.
“Do you think people like being told they’re bad?” asked his dad.
With shame in his voice, Michael Jr. responded, “No.”
“Exactly, so it makes sense there’d be some who’d get upset. It also makes sense that some would twist what you said because people often hear what they want to hear and not the actual message – people are dumb,” shared his dad. “Does that mean what you did was wrong?”
Michael Jr. paused. He thought he knew the answer, but he wasn’t sure enough to answer. He already felt bad enough and being wrong would just add to that.
“No,” answered his dad for him. “What you did is discouraged because we try to let people figure things out for themselves, but you had a good message. People screwing up the point wasn’t your fault – it’s theirs. The truth is if you want to help make positive change, you’re going to upset a few people. Oddly enough, if you never upset anyone, you’re likely irrelevant or a giant pushover. In this case, anyone you’ve upset is dumb, so it’s okay they’re upset. The one thing I am curious about is when you did this thing, were you trying to impress me or make a name for yourself in some way or did you do what you did mostly because you wanted to help the world be better?”
Michael Jr. paused to think about his answer because he wanted to show he took the question seriously, and then replied. “I wanted to make a difference. I don’t care about making a name for myself… especially when making a name leads to this. I’m just tired of people being so selfish and mean.”
“Good. Now I think it’s time you stopped hiding and did something to help finish what you started.”
“You want me to go back?” Michael Jr. asked surprised.
“Absolutely, you need to finish this because it was a good idea. If I can give a suggestion, however,” offered Michael, “you don’t have to do this alone. You have friends and doing something special is always more meaningful when you do it with people you love.”
One week before Christmas, all was calm until finger snapping could be heard across America and a bright light suddenly filled the night sky in every capital of all fifty American states, so no one state could claim superiority over another. These lights resembled the one described to have been in the movie theaters except these lights were high in the sky and large enough for people to see miles away. They were also unique as they became like a floating screen that showed a countdown that had started at thirty seconds. Behind the countdown was a scene that was another light glowing over the White House. This light in the county’s capital, however, was huge and dwarfed the White House. If you looked closely, planes were suspended in midair surrounding the light like how the rude guy was suspended in the air at the first theater visit. The planes looked like they had engaged the light as if it was a terrorist attack, but now were useless and just floating.
After the countdown finished, which gave people a chance to realize something big was happening, the light above the White House spoke and that voice was being transmitted through each of the lights above the city capitals for everyone to hear. This voice sounded familiar because it was the same one from the theater recordings.
“Two weeks ago I visited a number of movie theaters with the same message: Be better people. To everyone who have tried to be better, thank you. Thank you for listening and helping yourselves and your country be better. If you heard my message and brushed it off, you are a Potter. If you heard my message and used it as a reason to attack others, you are a Potter. If you heard my message and instead of looking at how you can change, but instead pointed your finger at other people and told them to change, you are a Potter. And when I say you’re a Potter, I’m not being judgemental. I am simply categorizing what you’re doing as bad, so you can realize you are what’s wrong with the world. Stop blaming others and making excuses – learn to love. Not only are you making your life worse, your meanness is making it harder for others to be good and enjoy life. You are the people I described in my first message as being the ones who will make the world a better place when you’re gone. The reality is everyone needs to make some changes. No one is innocent. If you think you are, you’re deluding yourself. No matter how good you think you are, instead of trying to change others, change yourself. You have the power to change you and the right. You don’t have the right to try to change others. Fortunately, if you change you, others will be forced to adapt. That’s how you help others change – change yourself. You need to consider how you can be more patient. You need to consider how you can be more kind. You need to consider how you can be more self-controlled because that is what love is. It’s time to make this world better. It’s time to fill it with love. We need to fill it with patience, kindness, and self control. You have the power. This Christmas, you can make the world a better place by you being better. For the negative people who will want to twist what I’m saying, my goal giving this speech is to make you aware, so you can stop being so damaging to each other. And by whose authority do I have to tell you this? That’s a great question.”
Suddenly, the light disappeared in Washington above the White House and after a few seconds, the lights that projected the image and voice disappeared in all the capitals as well. Everything returned to the way it was, at least for a brief moment until there was a national explosion of posts and social media opinions. Many things were said. Some were happy with the message while others assumed the worst, but as Michael Jr. had learned, those people are the Potters; they are the ones making this world harder than it needs to be for themselves and everyone around them. We shouldn’t focus on changing them; we should focus on changing ourselves. We need to focus on how we can be more patient, kind, and self controlled and do what we can to not let the Potters of the world prevent us from smiling, laughing, and being welcoming because it’s the little things that help make this world better.
And what happened to Michael Jr.? He went back home and celebrated with his friends who had helped him do this national event. His dad was right. It was more meaningful doing such an important thing with friends and it brought them all closer. It was also fun knowing he just messed with all the people’s heads leaving them with that last statement – and by whose authority do I have to tell you this? Michael Jr. wanted to help people, but he still wanted to have a little fun.
Rev. Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people (like me)