Do yourself a favor and read Bill McGurn's wonderful tribute to his daughters' piano teacher, who just passed away. It's about many things: excellence, dying well, great teachers, Christmas:
how wondrous it is to watch your children introduced to excellence by someone who lets them know it’s within their grasp if only they are willing to work at it.But really it's about how communities are forged: through dedicated persons, who form mediating institutions:
Naturally in this world there were consequences for showing up unprepared. Not just for the children, either. Once, while Mrs. Alvey was reprimanding a daughter for some dereliction, I was sitting in the back of her living room busying myself on my iPhone.
Without warning, she turned both her attention and her cane in my direction: “And may I ask what Dad is doing to make sure his daughter puts in the practice she needs?” After that, this father prudently opted to wait in the car for the conclusion of piano lessons.
In our public domains we obsess over the Big Happenings: what Putin is doing in Syria, whether ObamaCare can be repealed, if Donald Trump will win, and so on.
In the meantime, our lived lives are dominated by neighbors, coaches, teachers, crossing guards, cops, local shopkeepers, library volunteers and so on. These men and women seldom make the headlines, but they command the little platoons that make us human. Even in places with no shortage of money, perhaps especially in such places, it is our Mrs. Alveys who civilize society and turn our towns into communities.
Today I would like not only to address you, but through you the entire people of the United States. Here, together with their representatives, I would like to take this opportunity to dialogue with the many thousands of men and women who strive each day to do an honest day’s work, to bring home their daily bread, to save money and –one step at a time – to build a better life for their families. These are men and women who are not concerned simply with paying their taxes, but in their own quiet way sustain the life of society. They generate solidarity by their actions, and they create organizations which offer a helping hand to those most in need.