CHRISTMAS HOMECOMING FOR THE COMMON GOOD - December 21, 2014
By Representative David Perryman
Growing up, we received a number of papers and magazines. Among them were the Farmer-Stockman and Progressive Famer, but my favorite was the Saturday Evening Post. It included very readable articles and novellas, but illustrators of “Americana” such as Norman Rockwell and John Phillip Falter “made” the magazine.
Today, Rockwell prints make me pause to admire the detail and deeply inhale the air of nostalgia so adeptly communicated by the artist. Norman Rockwell’s subjects were varied. Much of his brightly colored art focused on the holiday season from Thanksgiving through Christmas. He painted an abundance of the Jolly Old Elf in a multitude of situations and predicaments. Tree trimming and families at their dinner tables are among the most memorable.
However, the one print that resonates most clearly is a lithograph simply called “Homecoming.” The artwork shows a man being greeted with the genuine love and admiration of a community of nearly two dozen people whose eyes, smiles and posture unconditionally shout WELCOME. Subtly, we are drawn into the scene and share in the affection toward the man.
The quality that underscores the message of “Homecoming” is that the person being greeted is seen only from the back. Consequently, we do not know whether he is a returning hero or a former lost soul who has sought and received forgiveness and redemption.
We are unable to determine whether his travels have allowed him to attain great wealth or have taken him through the depths of despair and addiction. He may be a returning prodigal son or may have been recently released from prison. Perhaps he has suffered from mental illness.
What Rockwell communicates is that he is a human being and all eyes are focused on him and not the three or four small packages under his arm. In fact, except for the fact that color was added to this print, festive wrapping paper was added to the packages and the picture later appeared as the December 25, 1948 cover on the Saturday Evening Post, there is little, if any indication that the return was associated with a holiday at all.
What Rockwell communicates in drawing us into the scene is that EVERYONE is deserving of human compassion and not just this holiday season, but EVERYDAY in America. Otherwise, there is not a scintilla of difference between us and ANYONE else who shares compassion only with those whose presence makes them “comfortable.”
Another set of Rockwell prints hang in my office. They are titled the “Four Freedoms” and in addition to Religion and Speech, include “Freedom from Fear” and “Freedom from Want.” Claiming the first two is a hollow victory if fear and want control our lives.
That is my Christmas message, but it is being scrambled by negative and destructive cable news networks that pelt us endlessy and manipulate us with fear, hate and despair. We can do better. Merry Christmas. Contact me at any time at 800-522-8502, or David.Perryman@okhouse.gov.