Editor's note: "The Spoken Word" is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcast.
Frank Capra was a movie director during the golden age of Hollywood decades ago. He is well-known for heartwarming films such as "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"_—_classic tales of humble, small-town heroes choosing good over evil, right over wrong.
Frank Capra was born in Sicily, and his family immigrated to America when he was a child. At the end of a dreadful 13-day voyage across the Atlantic, as the ship approached New York Harbor, Frank's father brought him on deck. "Look at that!" he said, pointing to the Statue of Liberty. "That's the greatest light since the star of Bethlehem! That's the light of freedom! Remember that. Freedom." Throughout his moviemaking career, Frank Capra demonstrated that he did indeed remember (see "Frank Capra's America and Ours," by John Marini, Imprimis, March 2015).
In his speech accepting the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award, Capra revealed his formula for moviemaking. He said: "The art of Frank Capra is very, very simple. It's the love of people. Add two simple ideals to this love of people — the freedom of each individual and the equal importance of each individual — and you have the principle upon which I based all my films" (see "Frank Capra's America and Ours").
Perhaps this is why Capra's movies resonated with Americans — and with people everywhere. He built his craft on the same ideals that form the foundation of his adopted homeland: love, freedom and human dignity, which are at the heart of what makes this country a beacon to the world. They are the principles found in Martin Luther King's dream to "one day live in a nation where (people) will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character" (see "I Have a Dream," 1963 on archives.gov).
Of course this country is not without problems and flaws. But nations can overcome flaws if they continue to cherish the right of responsible citizens to breathe free, to work hard, to become what they choose and to be treated with respect.
It's simple, really. The light of freedom shines ever brighter when we love others, when we look for ways to help. The love of freedom flourishes when we are respectful and kind to everyone — even those who think, act, believe and look different from us. That is what fosters the light and love of freedom.