Over vacation while visiting a small town Glenn went to a local theater and watched a showing of Mary Poppins. The town was such a throwback, in many ways reminded him of a time when, despite its flaws, understood that we’re in this life together. As he watched the movie he kept thinking - what would America be like if Walt Disney had given up? A very inspirational take.
I took my older daughter Mary and Cheyenne, my youngest daughter, to Mary Poppins.
We were in a small town over the weekend. Went to a little theater in our little town out in the mountains. And to try to bring people downtown to do shopping, they had little bed races and live performances and the lighting of the Christmas tree and fireworks and Santa came on back of the fire truck and everything. And I remember when all small towns used to do this. Maybe they still do. I've just been away for so long.
But there's a movie theater in town. One movie theater. Only seats 200 people. And they offered Mary Poppins for free. Free popcorn, free soda, free movie. Free. Just come. I thought there had to be some catch. There wasn't. Who does this?
Neighbors do this.
Our answers to all of the problems that are going on in the world are waiting for us to rediscover them. They are waiting right now mainly in the small towns where people are still real. They're waiting for us to humble ourselves and stop thinking that we're above these simple answers. That it was somehow or another, we're better than these simple people because we're not.
The poem, 'The Gods of the Copybook Headings' by Rudyard Kipling, comes to mind again and again and again. With terror and slaughter they return.
The answers that we need today are the same answers that we have needed when Greece was young. Hard work. Don't lie. Don't cheat. Don't steal. Don't covet. Don't commit adultery. Honor your family. Honor your family. Honor your parents. Honor yourself. Be charitable. Have empathy. Be humble. Have compassion. Honesty over political correctness.
They all will return one day. Those all will come back one day. And we will either see the miracles that bring them back or we will witness the slaughter that brings them back.
As I sat in that small little movie theater in a small little town in the mountains, I watched 'Mary Poppins'. And I saw Mr. Banks. Walt knew that this story was not about saving the children. Mary Poppins didn't come to save the children. Mary Poppins came to save the dad, Mr. Banks. That's a message from 1964. That was the year I was born. Save the dad. 'Feed The Birds'. It's a song from Mary Poppins. The Sherman brothers who wrote that song wrote all the music. They said that they used to come in to Walt's office. He would call them in on Friday afternoon, 5:00. As they were getting ready to leave and he would just say, play the song for me. And they would stand by the window as they would play 'Feed The Birds' and he would cry. And he would say, that's it. That's the answer.
He knew. Frank Capra knew. Yet Frank Capra and Walt Disney while they were alive mocked relentlessly. But those are the men who brought us the answers the last time around in the media.
Why aren't we doing the things we know that are right? Most likely because it's too hard or because we think we can't get there from here. Or people make fun of us. People tell us that we'll fail. It doesn't matter if you fail. Why do we continue to worry about what other people think when the whole world is upside down? Why do we care what other people think? Why do we care what society says? Look what society is. We should be basing ourselves and saying, if that's what society says, then we should go the other direction. Why do we care if the world calls us a failure?
I think in the end it's more important to say, I tried, than it is to say, I succeeded.
What matters are the acts -- are we doing the things, are we doing the acts every day that propel us out of bed or are we dragging ourselves out of bed just to do the things we have to do? Why aren't we doing the things we long to do? Why aren't we living the life we long to live? I suppose we all have a million reasons. But none of them are good enough, because without you doing your part, without you doing whatever it is you're supposed to do, the whole thing falls apart.
As I watched that movie, Mary Poppins, in the theater this weekend in this small town, I thought to myself, what would the world have been like if Walt Disney didn't conquer his fear? If Walt Disney would have given up? If he would have listened to his brother. If he would have listened to his critics. Without Disney doing what everyone said was impossible, we would have lost an entire generation of the Liberty Tree, Johnny Tremain, Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone. We would have lost Johnny Appleseed. A world without Disneyland. A world without a talking Lincoln. The happiest place on earth. 'It's a Small World'. No Mickey Mouse Club, no Spin and Marty, no The Adventures of Zorro if Walt Disney would have listened to the critics.
Without those things, who would we be? Without his stories of the culture, his stories of empowerment, of do the right thing. You have it within your grasp. Would we have made to it Ronald Regan and without Ronald Reagan reminding us who we are would we have made it to today?
One summer in the late 1960s, we were given the same choice we were -- we're giving right now. Roll around in the mud like pigs at Woodstock, burn your cities to the ground. Or reach beyond yourself and walk on the moon. Last time we were presented, we walked on the moon. Both of those choices were presented to us in the same summer. We have the same choice again but where is Neil Armstrong?
I'm convinced our culture now run by those who chose the pigs in the mud have pulled the greatest con on some of the greatest people that ever lived. They have convinced Americans that they just can't do it. They've convinced you that you just can't make it. That somebody is trying to keep you down. They've convinced the American people that life isn't worth it, that life isn't worth the pain or the hassle. Just check out. Take the easy route. Medicate.
It's all lies. All of it lies. I can point to the easy choice. I can point to the pigs, the sex, the drugs, the sloth, the death, the take it from them. Can you please help me point to the higher choice? Because we better find it. We better share it. We better hold it up. I declare that man walks upright, not on his hands and knees. We do not crawl to others. We do not beg them to feed us. To coddle us, to care for us. We're a man. Stand up, stand up straight.
It's going to take all of us to right this ship. All of us saying, I choose to live and do. Together we can reach the heavens again. Together we can choose hope and honor and courage and love. We have to stop telling each other that we can't do it. We have to stop telling each other what's wrong and what's stopping us. Let's dismiss those who want you to blame the government, blame your parents, blame Hollywood, blame your boss, blame the banks. Dismiss them. Focus on what we can do. Focus on powerful you really are. What tools you have been given and get to work.
Two most powerful words in any language, I am. Say it every day. Monitor what you're saying after "I am."
Just check yourself for a little while. Just make a mental note, what do you follow those two words with every single day? "I am" what? I'm tired. I'm hopeless. I'm spent. Replace that. I am capable. I am strong. I am healthy. I am smart enough. I am worth it. I'm successful. I'm whole.
Choose. Choose your path. Because make no mistake. Life is a choice. And we walk out on to the field every single day. And we can either choose to be popular, we can choose to be nincompoops. We can choose to remain ignorant and we can put our hands up and be popular. Or we can choose to do the right thing and not worry about our popularity.
Life is a choice. What choice are you going to make today?