It wasn’t the first time such apparently obsolete wisdom was delivered in movies of that era. Think of Ashley Wilkes agreeing with Scarlett O’Hara that there was nothing tying him to his wife – “nothing but honor,” he said. (“Gone with the Wind,” 1939). Alas, virtues like these were routinely rejected by the heroines of such stories, and those who expressed them risked being portrayed as weak-minded and pitiable.
All of which paved the way for our modern ideas about what matters in this life.
In a word: me. It’s all about me. I am all that matters.
This notion came into its own in the 1960s, becoming the battle cry of my generation and the underlying MO of those that followed in our wake.
Our culture has encouraged this form of Nouveau Narcissism from the start, making it tough to resist. Consider our music, for instance. I could name a number of pertinent titles, but one of the most obvious contributors was Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All.” Check out the chorus:
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me.
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all.
As if we needed advice on how to love ourselves! As the wisest man who ever lived proclaimed in Ecclesiastes 1:9, “There’s nothing new under the sun.” And, in fact, self-love permeates the Bible’s accounts of man’s ancient rebellion against his Creator.
Modern movie-makers and songwriters have simply borrowed the same old themes, and we’ve embraced them eagerly in pursuing the same broad way to destruction. Think of “Is That All There Is?”, 1969’s musical answer to “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die (Isaiah 22:13). Or consider Sinatra’s “My Way,” a first-person version of “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6, e.g.).
What’s really interesting is that all of this adds up to the fulfillment of yet another Bible prophecy. In 2 Timothy 3, the apostle Paul had this to say about our times:
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves ...”
The good news is that there is an escape from the “all about me” path. All it takes is trust in Christ and an act of God. To learn more, consult the Bible. And to see how this wisdom plays out in real-life human beings, why not visit some old folks in the nearest nursing home? You'll probably have to mask up for now, but it will be well worth your while.