I saw Mr. Smith Goes to Washington last night for the first time (much thanks to Lauren for the suggestion and the DVD). The basic summary is that a wholesome country man becomes a U.S. Senator and finds himself tangling with political corruption and deceit.
Lauren pointed out that she appreciates the film because of the integrity displayed by the main character, Jeff Smith. He is a man of strong ideals and integrity, whose inherent goodness personifies the best in all of us.
What’s also remarkable is how Jeff Smith’s integrity inspires transformation in others. You can see this most clearly in how his idealism moves his secretary, Clarissa Saunders, from cynicism to hope.
Yet the film also demonstrates that heroes sometimes need to be reminded of who they are. SPOILER ALERT: In a pivotal scene, Jeff Smith is ready to call it quits, but Saunders comes in and lifts his spirits, reminding him of his vision for his people.
All heroes need this kind of reminder. All heroes have moments in which they doubt their ability to make a difference. It is in those moments that heroes need community that can look them in the eyes and say, “You can change things. I’m proof of that.”