Need A Little Christmas, Right this Very Minute?

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.
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. 
But really it's about how communities are forged: through dedicated persons, who form mediating institutions:
In our public domains we obsess over the Big Happenings: what Putin is doing in Syria, whether ObamaCare can be repealed, if Donald Trump will win, and so on.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.
I've been thinking about this a great deal as we watch the slow-to-rapid unraveling of our institutions.  Progressivism, I maintain, has reached its high-water mark, has already failed, and is eating its own: Germaine Greer can't speak on college campuses. Andrew Sullivan is shut out of LGBT discussion. The Vagina Monologues are banned because they don't include "women" without vaginas. Rahm Emanuel's in heap big trouble.  (Plus: the state of the world, which they run.) 
But the Right is equally spent (I refer to its popular forms at the moment; there are a number of "bright lights" out there under the radar). It's reduced to angry a'gin'  'er populism on the one hand (Trump, Cruz, Talk Radio), or Libertarianism, which shares with the Progressive Left a complete inability to defend marriage or the family.  The Left is all statist, all the time, and the state views the family and the community as rivals to its power, so crushes them at every turn. The popular Right is all individual, all the time, and because it won't defend the family, it allows the Left to crush it, not realizing that individual liberty depends on the family even more than on free markets. Neither has any interest in the family, the community, the Toquevillean "mediating institutions" that make for civil society. 
Did you notice this at the front of the Pope's speech to Congress (emphasis mine)?
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. 
I practically jumped for joy when he said it, thinking the Pope must have been thinking about Tocqueville, and was utterly mystified by the cool reception the speech received from social issues Conservatives. What is he saying there?  Community isn't built by the state. It's built by the family, and the mediating institutions built out of love and neighborly concern.  And people are not "taxpayers," for funding statist projects. They are persons who through their work, but also through their decency and the clubs and associations they form, build society itself. In one brilliant paragraph he said what needed to be said. Men and women aren't reducible to either libertarian or statist worker bees -- and it's no part of the legitimate aims of government to crush the family or the associations that flow from it. 
I keep thinking this is the moment for people who are serious about Catholic Social Teaching (properly understood, not as hijacked by Progressivism) to seize the day and remind people how to build communities, which is where we find man at his best and most fulfilled and most happy. There are some happy signs this is indeed happening (check out the work being done by CUA Business School, and the latest books from Arthur Brooks and Michael Novak).  But more on that another time. For now, just read that McGurn column and feel a bit better about the world.