Friday, December 31, 2010

Three-Cent Stamp

Be grateful for what you have, because chances are, it ain't so bad.

The Cohen Brothers' movies are funny, in a dark way, but also usually have a moral of some sort.  In the move Fargo, to me, the message was to be grateful for what you have in life.  Marge's husband Norm enters a painting contest, to see if his wildlife painting of a duck will be chosen for a postage stamp.  He wins, but is disappointed that it is "only the three-cent stamp":
Norm Gunderson: They announced it.
Marge Gunderson: They announced it?
Norm Gunderson: Yeah.
Marge Gunderson: So?
Norm Gunderson: Three-cent stamp.
Marge Gunderson: Your mallard?
Norm Gunderson: Yeah.
Marge Gunderson: Oh, that's terrific.
Norm Gunderson: It's just a three-cent stamp.
Marge Gunderson: It's terrific.
Norm Gunderson: Hautman's blue-winged teal got the 29-cent. People don't much use the three-cent.
Marge Gunderson: Oh, for Pete's sake. Of course they do. Whenever they raise the postage, people need the little stamps.
The scene pans out, as shown above, with Norm and "Margie" laying in bed, content, their baby on the way.  Sometimes the simple things in life are best.

But for many Americans, this never seems to be enough.  To be well-fed, healthy, and have a place to live and a job is never enough.  So long as their neighbors appear to have more, they are discontented and argue about the "unfairness" of the system.

But when you look at your life from a global perspective, you realize that you are among the lucky few people on this planet who don't have to scrabble on a daily basis to find sufficient calorie intake to prevent starvation - or worry about where you are going to sleep that night, or whether the government Police will jail you.  You are, if you are reading this, one of the very lucky few on this planet, as you know how to use a computer and have access to the Internet - making you one of the elite on the planet.

But for many folks, that is never enough - they want more.  Everyone else has more, why shouldn't they?  So they mortgage their lives to buy "things" and don't save anything to create real wealth.  Or they get involved in criminal enterprises, all for a "little bit of money".

At the denouement in the film, Marge has a monologue with the prisoner Carl in the back of her "prowler".   It  also sums up, in a few words, the theme of the movie.

Marge Gunderson: So that was Mrs. Lundegaard on the floor in there.  And I guess that was your accomplice in the wood chipper.  And those three people in Brainerd.  And for what?  For a little bit of money.  There's more to life than a little money, you know. Don'tcha know that? And here ya are, and it's a beautiful day. Well. I just don't understand it.
Take a moment to be grateful for what you have, because chances are, it is more than you think you have - and much more than most.   Greed and envy and the need to "have more" often end up causing people a world of grief.

Three-cent stamp!