It’s (still) a wonderful life

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Hollywood and their toadies in media and politics agree that “old-fashioned” values are just that: Old. Add to that cornball, obsolete, narrow-minded and malignantly uncool. Not a day goes by where we aren’t reminded that it’s a new day—a day where all you need to do to be awesomely hip is ridicule all those who go to church, listen to talk radio and, God forbid, identify themselves as conservative.

It’s so fun to be a member of the cool crowd, or as writer and Fox News host Greg Gutfeld calls the “tolerati.” You can get away with being a jerk and bigot while simultaneously accusing your target of being a racist. View the Matthews-Maddow-Bashir-O’Donnell-Sharpton cabal at MSNBC and you’ll see a loathing of traditional American principles that would shock our parents’ and grandparents’ generation.

Then the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary happened. The spears in our collective hearts tore even the most cynical among us—“Why,” we asked. Some blame guns. Some blame violent video games, movies and music. Some blame insufficient mental health services. With the exception of the contemptible few who seized on Rahm Emanuel’s adage to “never let a serious crisis go to waste,” Americans focused on the 20 innocent souls who will never grow up and the heroic adults who died trying to save them. Sandy Hook was different from other national tragedies; instead of watching non-stop, we turned off our TV’s in empathetic grief for the victims’ families.

The progressives don’t get it; the most fervent gun advocates don’t get it. Mercifully, most of us do: It isn’t about your cause, stupid. This is a time to embrace those “old-fashioned” values that trigger Jon Stewart’s eye-rolls and accusations of intolerance from fellow liberals.

Sorry, Stewart and Michael Moore. Sorry, Jennifer Aniston, Beyonce, Reese Witherspoon, Will Farrell, and all the other celebs who have signed on to the DEMAND A PLAN crusade to end gun violence. Too obvious in the scene-chewing indignation, folks; your phony “concern” for the victims of mass murders will last until the next “War on….” campaign hits the airwaves. After all, where’s their outrage when thousands are being gunned down on our urban streets?

…Do you hear it? Neither do I.

What truly matters, especially in our darkest moments, cannot be satisfied by being edgy, snarky—oh-so-cool; the hedonism promoted by the entertainment industry is nothing but a distasteful diversion. Yet they continue on, despite the fact that year after year one film resounds with Americans despite its supposed hackneyed sentiments.

Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” is one of the most beloved films of all time. In fictional Bedford Falls, banker George Bailey gives up his dreams of traveling the world to devote his life to helping others. On Christmas Eve, after the bank deposit goes missing, a suicidal George is rescued by a guardian angel who shows him the immeasurable value his life has brought to both his family and community. In return for his kindness, his many friends step up and replace the missing funds. Watching the final chorus of “Auld Lang Syne,” the response is always the same: Nary a dry eye in the room.

Sixty-six years after its initial release, “It’s a Wonderful Life” still receives the highest aggregate reviews of all holiday releases and scores at the top in viewer popularity. Not bad for a movie promoting such banal morality.

Maybe, just maybe it’s because these sentiments aren’t so antiquated after all; maybe the concept of helping one another for the greater benefit resonates in good times and bad. It can be easy to become disheartened in light of what happened in Newtown. That said, the outpouring of sincere concern and commitment to reach out to the victims is fortunately drowning out the self-serving phonies.

Thank you George Bailey. It is a wonderful life.

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