2013 – oil on canvas, 200×150 cm
“The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which he has attained liberation from the self”. Albert Einstein
Stewart Lansley describes today’s livelihood crisis, interlaced with economic instability and soaring inequality, as a result of the rising concentration of wealth, driven by a collapsing wage and rising profit share. This results in an unfulfilled life not only for the Poor, but also for the Rich. For Abraham Maslow, one of the first psychologists to embrace Aristotle’s idea of fulfilment, the best part of our nature does not express itself until the more basic human needs, such as hunger, thirst and warmth, safety and security, love and belongingness, are at least somewhat satisfied. Freed of these needs, we can motivate ourselves by noble and selfless principles, by beliefs and values.
In short we can express our Conscience to its fullest extent. So why it is then that so few of the privileged rich are sharing the opinion of Albert Einstein? It is certainly not everybody’s ideal to live like Saint Francis in total poverty: a vow depicted in the Inferno of Dante Alighieri’s Divina Comedia in the form of the Wedding of the Saint with Dame Poverty; a scene which I have transformed into a sculpture installed in the Convent of San Franceso in Assisi. It was here that the Abbot of the Holy Convent and Basilica encouraged me to transform my Cloak sculpture into a space of meditation, following the words of Saint Francis, whereby in the absence of a consecrated place of worship we should use our own body as a Cloak for prayer and meditation.
Over time this archi-sculpture is slowly becoming the Global Symbol of our Conscience, a reminder of the basic values of Saint Francis: Fellowship and Love for all other human beings, the respect of nature and the acknowledgement of common origin and equality of all creatures together with man. It is a strong sign of our times, that the new Pope has chosen for the first time in history the name of the Saint for his tenure. By doing so he has created immense hope and expectations for all of us who feel the need for a drastic change “in the Name of the Cloak”.
In his ground breaking book “What has Nature ever done for us”. Tony Juniper, a Chromy Award Winner, reminds us of the spiritual connection of Saint Francis with the natural world, and his belief that creation was a sacred gift from God. Alas, over the centuries Christianity and other major faiths have drifted from this perspective and see nature as a collection of material resources for humankind. A change in direction, back to the ideals of Saint Francis, supported by Pope Francesco, could make a decisive impact on the future of the globe and humanity.