Source: Sherman Publications

My Way
My Way
Where has this man gone?

by CJ Carnacchio

August 17, 2011

Itís amazing how you can see something for years, then one day, all of the sudden, it inspires you to create.

Thatís what happened to me as I gazed at the painting shown right while making some routine phone calls.

For those of you not familiar with it, itís part of a series called the ďFour Freedoms,Ē painted by American illustrator Norman Rockwell in 1943. Itís called ďFreedom of Speech.Ē

Itís always been one of my favorite works of art. Honestly, I must have sat and stared at it a thousand times, but I was never inspired to write about it until now.

To me, this painting is the very essence of what American government, particularly at the local level, is supposed to be about.

Take a good look at the man whoís speaking. Notice the way heís dressed. Heís not wearing a fancy suit with a silk tie; heís dressed in his rumpled work clothes. He probably just came from a long day of laboring on his farm or perhaps at some local factory.

Heís not someone pretending to be the common man or trying to relate to the common man, he is the common man.

Heís standing up amidst his fellow townspeople, addressing some type of governing board about an issue thatís important to him or important to his community.

Heís probably nervous about speaking in public, but at the same time, heís also not afraid to speak his mind.

My guess is whatever heís saying isnít very eloquent or polished, but you know itís honest, you know itís based on common sense and you know itís from his heart.

Notice how the folks around him are listening so intently. They seem to genuinely care about what he has to say even though he possesses no degrees, no titles, no expert credentials to speak of. They care about what he has to say because heís their neighbor, heís their friend, heís truly one of them.

I find myself getting lost in a sea of idealism when I stare at this painting. I think this how it was meant to be; this is how it should be. But that wonderful spell is soon broken when my mind dwells on many of the people I deal with on a regular basis in the political realm Ė the two-faced, the cowardly, the deceitful, the apathetic and the easily-led.

I ask myself, ďWhere has the man in this painting gone?Ē

He didnít just exist in Rockwellís imagination. He used to be flesh and blood. He used to be us.