Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mary Poppins (Part 3) - Take your kids to work day?

Take your daughters and sons to work day?

Who knew Mary Poppins thought of this one more than 80 years ahead of Gloria Steinem! And seeing how badly this "take your kids to work day" turned out in 1910, no wonder we waited till the 1990s to give it another try.

Where were we? Continuing from the last two posts, I see that a prominent theme in the Disney version of Mary Poppins is the transformation of the father, George Banks.  From the get-go, Mary announced she would stay as the Banks' nanny until the wind changed.  Before that happens, George faces more than a change in the weather - a major Victorian mid-life crisis.

Back in 1910:

Flustered by the disorder and nonsensical talk of fantastic adventures, George Banks decides to give Mary Poppins a good talking to. Poor George doesn't know what hit him when this clever nanny turns the conversation around.  He ends up believing that taking Jane and Michael for an outing at his bank is actually his idea. 

The following day, it's take your children to work day at the bank in London.  But Michael does not fully cooperate.  This good hearted son wishes to buy crumbs from the Bird Woman, which Mary Poppins told him about, instead of depositing his tuppence in his father's bank.

Michael's fight with his father's boss over the tuppence precipitates a panic among the depositors and a run on the bank.  Chaos ensues.  The Banks children run from the pandemonium in terror.  And George haplessly finds himself at the epicenter of the worst crisis since the last run on the bank in 1773 when their financing of a shipment of tea was destroyed in the Boston Tea Party.

The first part of this clip from those critical moments in the movie.  Bert's talk with the children, especially about their father. 

I love Bert, for he has great empathy for their father. Mr. George Banks has imprisoned himself in a cold cage of work. Yet, feeling quite alone, George carries on, uncomplaining, shouldering his burdens in silence as it seems there is no one looking out for him and to whom he can go for help when trouble comes.

Even Mrs. Banks ignores the needs of her frightened children as she pawns them off on Bert while rushing off to do her own thing. Sadly, the mother is absent, both physically and emotionally, at a time when both  her children and her husband need her support.

Fast forward to 2010:

Many of us have faced or will face or are now facing that same lonely road -  losing our jobs, coping with an unwelcome change in our way of life.  The definition of who we thought we were is threatened. When bad things happen, we may feel very alone and forsaken.

While keeping our noses to the grindstone, we have created quite a prison for ourselves.  What has our preoccupation with the cares of life gotten us when we see our world about to crumble?  Where do we go for help?  Sadly, family and friends, those closest to us, may seem absent from our pain, and they are not there for us, at least emotionally, self-absorbed, busy doing their own thing.

Rewind to 1910:

Poor George.  Suddenly, he realizes his dreams are shattered; his spirit crushed.   His whole world has turned upside unexpectedly, suddenly, and everything he has worked for, hoped for, his dreams which were within his grasp have evaporated, as he laments such to Burt in this clip.

Bert is wonderful here.  George is reminded that, while grinding at that grindstone, he was letting his family, especially his children slip away from him.  His son and daughter both look up to him and they need him.  Does he see that?  Meanwhile, time flies, and soon his children will be grown, gone away, and it will be too late. 

At this low point, there appears one bright spot as George sees the love of his children, and George's hard exterior starts to crack.

Rightly said the prophet:  " ... and a little child shall lead them."  (Isaiah 11:6)

Fast forward to 2010:

Many in 2010 face the same type of challenges:  the 2008 banking crisis, rising debt, serious recession, high unemployment, stock market devaluations, shrinking bank accounts. For many of us, our world has come crashing down. The affluence and good life we were chasing has suddenly evaporated.

Grind, grind, grind at that grindstone?  In spite of that, what has our diligence gotten us anyway?  Our dreams are shattered.  Our world has crumbled.  Time waits for no one as children, family, loved ones grow up, move on, and slip away from us ....

But this catastrophe can be transformed to a eucatastrophe as I conclude in the final post to come.

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