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Life Arts    H4'ed 4/11/15

Goodness-the Most Powerful Force in the World

Message Suzana Megles
Who said -- "Goodness is the most powerful force in the world?" Did you guess correctly? It was Somerset Maugham in "The Razor's Edge." How thrilled I was to catch again this powerful movie made in 1946 which I had found so beautiful and compelling then. Now, so many, many years later, I find it just as inspirational.
For me -- I don't think they make movies of this calibre any more with probably some rare exceptions like James Cameron's "Titanic." Of course, the picture was wonderful, and for many of us- it may have taken us back to an earlier period of history which is special to us as we are the children of the immigrants who came to America in the early 1900's.
"Titanic" - I'm sure you will agree was a beautiful love story, and the characters were larger than life as was the whole movie. And then I recently found out that Director James Cameron and his wife are both vegan- so I then liked the movie even more!

Recalling some of the pictures being made when I was growing up made me think that this was indeed a special period of movie making. Pictures like Mrs. Miniver, Sargent York, The Yearling, Samson and Delilah, Ben Hur, and The Greatest Story Ever Told are some of the movies which enchanted this young movie goer and certainly enlarged my tiny world growing up in a small basically Slovak enclare called Birdtown. It was named so because many of the streets were named after birds. With the help of a mid wife, I was born on Robin Street. Most of the babies in Birdtown were born this way to these early immigrant mothers.
But back to "The Razor's Edge." The characters here were well defined by Somerset Maugham, and you couldn't help mistaking their dominant characteristics. Isabel (Gene Tierney) was a self-centered, conniving woman who would do anything to get her way. It even led to the downfall and death of Sophie (Anne Baxter) who, because of the death of her husband and children in a car accident had fallen into a life of despair, booze, and promiscuity.
There were other interesting characters in this story as well, and even Maugham placed himself among them, but the outstanding part belonged to Tyrone Power who played Larry. Despite early reverses and tribulations, he finds the true meaning of life when the ship he was working on embarks in India.
While there, he is fortunate enough to connect with people of great learning and spiritual gifts. When he comes back to France where his friends are, he soon impresses them with his acts of kindness and concern for their well being. I loved his character or trying to rescue Sophie from her unhappy life. He even plans to marry her until the conniving Isabel traps her into falling off the wagon by tempting her with a bottle of booze. Ashamed, she then flees the scene and ends up later murdered and floating in a river.
"The Razor's Edge" has indeed become one of my most favorite movies. The ending was especially poignant and beautiful as when Maugham explains to the self-centered Isabel why Larry has chosen to return to America -paying for his passage by working aboard ship. He probably realized that he could do more good in America than among his rich friends
whose only purpose seemed to be self gratification. I think for once the self-centered Isabel finally "gets it" when Maugham utters this last beautiful sentence which ends the movie: Of Larry he said: - "GOODNESS is the most wonderful force in the world and he's got it."
I'm glad my sister saves the Sunday Cleveland Plain Dealer for me, because I don't subscribe to it because I am deluged already with too much to read. However, I am grateful that she does, because I often find stories of inspiration in it. This was one of them.
For 11 years- Ed Skuza, --an 83 year-old man living in a Cleveland suburb made morning and evening treks to the edge of the woods near the back of his apartment building to feed more than a dozen stray cats. Thank goodness he has been relieved of this duty of love by Voice in the Dark pet rescue volunteers who sucessfully trapped, neutered, and relocated 15 cats including "Flower" who gave birth in February to five kittens after being rescued from the artic winter. All 5 kittens were adopted, and Flower remains in a foster home.
Per Donna Miller, the PD reporter who wrote this column -- Ed had struggled both physically and financially to care for them. Although he is relieved of this "duty," he says he misses his cats with whom he had spent so many of his days preparing bowls of crunchy cat food as well as the canned - toting them to his van and whistling for the cats to come.
And come they did, and he happily rested on his tailgate -talking to them while they ate at his feet. Isn't the picture of this elderly man tenderly caring for "his" poor homeless cats a picture of love and GOODNESS?
Many of us have found this polar winter intolerable, but my thoughts often went to the homeless cats and dogs who were dumped by cruel and uncaring people. I even worried about all of them throughout the very cold top tier of the United States. Those who were homeless and abandoned
must have suffered greatly because of the cruel polar blasts we were experiencing. Did they even survive?
The wild horses of the West must have also suffered from the brutal cold and no food. I feel sure that some of them did not survive. I believe that our government should be mindful of their needs, but I sadly believe are not.
I one time also read that cattle owned by the cattle barons are allowed to graze on our public lands. Is there any grass out there in winter? One bitter winter- many of them froze to death. Did this happen again? I hope not. And of course, it is also wrong to allow private interests to use public lands in the first place. These poor cows should have been ensconced in barns at least.
And finally, I am thankful for people like Larry from the Razor's Edge, Ed Skuza, the volunteers of Voice in the Dark pet rescue in Cleveland and others of their ilk who know that "Goodness is the most wonderful force in the world."

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I have been concerned about animal suffering ever since
I received my first puppy Peaches in 1975. She made me take a good look at the animal kingdom and I was shocked to see how badly we treat so many animals. At 77, I've been a vegan for the (more...)
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