Children As The Ultimate Value of The Human Race, Because They, At Least “Theoretically”, Carry The Probability/Possibility Of A More Humane And Decent Society

The Magi came to Jerusalem because they had seen an extraordinary star that they believed was a sign of a birth of the Savior in the land of Judea. They came to Jerusalem expecting to see him. When Herod heard the Magi were looking for the Messiah, he was troubled. All Jerusalem was worried because of people’s knowledge that Herod was a cruel man who didn’t hesitate to kill anyone who was a threat to him. Wikipedia

Emil Nolde, “Adoration/Unbetung, 1922

A Still from Pier Paolo Pasolini‘s film “The Gospel According to St. Matthew” (1964), where we see how one of the Magi in awe is holding baby Jesus

The dense/deep blue color of Mary and the closest Magus’ clothing emphasizes that Adoration of the baby Jesus is a heavenly event – and earthly because it’s heavenly. The pink-orange color of the faces of Mary, Jesus and the Magus who is asking Mary‘s permission to hold the baby, is the reflection/as if repercussion of the bright pink-orange color of the children who want to adore the newborn. The pale, as if tired-green color of the “blanket” for covering/warming the baby, is echoed by the tiny splotches of the same tired-green color on the sky and also present in the eyes of some of the children, reminding us about the cosmic tragedy of Christ’s future murder.

The face of the magus in the middle is slightly sad because his elder associate is honored with the right to hold the enfant ahead of him. But the African magus on the left of the canvass cannot believe his eyes – how is it that the newborn Messiah is white, why is he not black “as he is supposed to be”?

The miracle of the painting is the quantity of small children excitedly impatient to adore the baby Jesus. They are spontaneously, naturally, organically identifying with the wonder of the infant-Messiah. They feel that they are so close to him, so similar – close to God. And, as if, to celebrate their love for Jesus, Nolde makes them populate the sky of his painting! Indeed, there is no sky higher than the children!

The pathos of the painting, it seems, is in proclaiming that all children are sacred, all children are god’s, and they should be treated as a sacred reality, but in a Christian way – without any idolatry. By depicting children as the inhabitants of heaven (occupying in the painting the place of the heaven), Nolde, as if, starts with a goodhearted cliché that children are “angels”, but he continues with the question of their… identity with baby-Jesus. Only dogmatic authoritarians (who use our human pagan nature as a chance to mask their fear of and indifference toward children with the posture of caring about them through “strictness” and even more – to mask the indifference of human societies toward human beings), will dare to forbid the children this identification with the new-born Jesus.

Nolde’s painting teaching us aesthetic sensitivity provides us with the energy for growing the courage to live without rivalry, profits and wars – to get the ability to live with other people without competing for global domination and instead – to learn to enjoy global cooperation, mutuality of hearts and reciprocity of minds.

As King Herod “was troubled” by the birth of Jesus, our leadership today “is troubled” by the existence of independent thinking in American public and countries which want to collaborate with us (and with one another) as “equal partners” in international affairs and in friendly exchange of peaceful projects instead of being obedient to somebody’s despotic will.

Only those who don’t know how to interact with the otherness of children (or adults) and who only know how to monitor others through direct or indirect commands and calculative manipulations will feel that in Nolde’s “Adoration” children look like imps from hell. This rigid/frigid people (be they neocons or neoliberals) will tend to perceive in the painting the areas of bright-yellow behind the children as a heat/fire from hell. It is not surprising that this type of people’s children (many of whom were corporeally punished or/and psychologically repressed or humiliated in their childhood) become adults occupied mainly either with guns and money or with money and guns. For them human otherness/difference means being an enemy deserving only one thing – to be crushed. These haters of other’s independence can have a peaceful relations only with those who either share their ideas or will allow them to dominate and to define others’ destiny. Many of these servants of money-masters will be ready to die for their leaders (for the interests of fossil-fuel tyrannosauruses, Wall Street grasshoppers or starry generals) instead of building a more humane, educated and smarter multinational world.

Film clip – Pasolini‘s “The Gospel According to St. Matthew” (1964)