St. Aquinas Was Right (Part 3)

Continuing from my previous post, there is one other work of art that I would like to discuss that vividly demonstrates the need for love of neighbor to cross the threshold to happiness.

This second work of art is the masterpiece, The Night Watch, by Rembrandt.  In this painting we see the the two main characters as leaders of a band of men dedicated to protecting their community.  The leaders are wealthy, respected, and honored for their duty.  However, they also exhibit wisdom and courage, are not tempted by money, power, or fame, and are dedicated to providing security to the community under their watch.

Perhaps the most detail of the painting is the little girl in the background.  She is illuminated in expressing her thanks for the safety provided by the band of men.  She is the depiction of the love of neighbor or the appreciation for the calling of the leaders and their men.  She brings to life the happiness of the others in the painting.  Without this little girl, the painting would be an incomplete representation of happiness.  While all the other needs as expressed by Aristotle and Maslow are present in the picture, it is the little girl that pulls the men across the threshold and into happiness.  The men have no further needs or desires.  Their calling is complete; happiness is achieved and society flourishes through the safety they prove their community.

The Night Watch by Rembrandt (1642)
The two leaders in the center, bathed in light, represent the heroes returning from the trials of the Adventure. They are separate from the others, but able to move between the world of community guardians and their everyday existence. They display a successful past, autonomy, concern for the welfare of their community (represented by the illuminated little girl expressing appreciation and thanks), a rich appreciation for life, strong interpersonal relationships, and self-sufficiency. 
Like the Rockwell painting, this painting presents not only individual happiness fully-realized, but the flourishing of one’s community (or family).  What a great representation of a great outcome!

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