joy magnetism: Freedom is essential

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Freedom is essential

Magnet #333 - Norman Rockwell's Four Freedoms

Today in Washington, DC, the streets will be lined, the Mall will be packed, and elsewhere, hotels, bars, offices, churches and stadiums will be packed with people - all there to celebrate the inauguration of the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama. And it won't be just in Washington - it's all over the country, and indeed, all over the world.

But, for as much as change seems to be afoot, there are some things that will never change. And four of them are on this magnet.

In January 1941, Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered his State of the Union Address before congress - discussing four essential human rights that he believed should be protected universally. The excerpted text is below, but it's odd how much of it applies today.

In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression - everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way - everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants - everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor - anywhere in the world.

That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called "new order" of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.

- Franklin Delano Roosevelt,
from the Annual Message to the Congress,
January 6, 1941

The speech so moved Norman Rockwell, that he wanted to do something to contribute to the War effort. He knew he was too old to serve, so he spent six months and several sleepless nights, painting these four masterpieces, known as the Four Freedoms. Left to right: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear.

The Saturday Evening Post ran them, when the government turned them down. The paintings were a big hit, and of course, the Office of War Information jumped on the bandwagon - issuing them as a series of posters for the War bond effort. They even toured the paintings around the country in 1943, and raised more than $130 million in war bond sales.

The exhibition has traveled various galleries since, and unless they're out again, they should be on display over at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA. Well worth the trip. Though, if you head over to their site, they give some great information on each of the paintings.

I'm anxious to see how today goes. Whether you're happy about today or not, it's truly one for the history books. Though, is it weird that there's a part of me that's hoping someone's going to take that quintessential picture of people in front of a storefront full of giant flat-screen televisions watching the inauguration?

In the meantime, happy inauguration day. Stay safe and warm and peaceful and maybe throw in a little hope, if you can.
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julie said...

happy inauguration day! i'll try and take pictures at the unofficial obama ball i'm going to tonight in KTM. i'm sure there will be a bunch of us mouths open staring at the tvs they will have.

Unknown said...

Happy Inauguration Day to you too Joy! It totally is an amazing thing. I tried to get a picture of DC from the air when I was leaving but couldn't - but can tell you the sheer number of people was incredible.

I choose to have hope.

joy said...

julie, how was the ball in kathmandu? You totally need to blog on that one. I heard it was fancy dress!

And speaking of fancy dress - Erin, I saw your ball pics - you and Connie looked lovely! And, yesterday afternoon, John King had a field day with the google sat images.

It was way fun to mute it and watch him go back and forth. This is the Mall. With people. Without people. With people. Without people.