That great Frank Capra film, Meet John Doe, is memorable for many reasons. Its timing: 1941. The actors: Edward Arnold, Walter Brennan, Gary Cooper, James Gleason, Gene Lockhart, Barbara Stanwyck. The themes: the common man, democracy, individual freedom, avarice, true love, a redemptive Christmas event.
For me, one aspect stands out this year. It is a phrase from the script: “lighthouses in a foggy world.” Whether it’s used to describe the people who gave voice and vigor to our country’s early days — as it does in the film — or to remind us of the figures around whom our religious holidays should revolve, to celebrate every lighthouse in our own foggy worlds might just be the best gift of all, today.