Their prayers were answered. They would be blessed with children but had to agree to sacrifice the last child. After 25 children the couple balked at making the ultimate sacrifice. This angered the gods who threatened the destruction of the village unless the couple honored the agreement.
The couple acquiesced and tossed their son, Kesuma, into the mouth of the volcano. These days thousands of pilgrims flock to the volcano each year offering food, live animals and money in return for blessings of prosperity. It is said you can still hear the cries of Kesuma.
Fast forward to May 2012 when famous money manager Leon Black purchased "The Scream" for a record $119.9 million. The Painting was part of a series of very personal Impressionist renderings by Edvard Munch. "The Scream" elicits strong reactions from viewers by unlocking an array of emotions that moves your blood but stops your heart. Many believe the man in the painting is screaming when in fact he's covering his ears to block a primal scream from nature.
Completed in 1893, the source of the imagery has been debated, but its inspiration was clearly described by Munch himself in a diary entry:
One evening I was walking along a path, the city was on one side and the fjord below. I felt tired and ill. I stopped and looked out over the fjord-the sun was setting, and the clouds turning blood red. I sensed a scream passing through nature; it seemed to me that I heard the scream. I painted this picture, painted the clouds as actual blood. The color shrieked. This became The Scream.
In 2003 Donald Olsen, an American physics and astronomy professor at Texas University looked into the inspiration for "The Scream." It was determined the eruption of Krakatoa in Indonesia created the "vivid red twilights" in Europe that probably lingered in the skies from November 1893 well into 1884. That same eruption generated tsunamis that killed 36,417 people. In fact the eruption was so powerful it measured 13,000 times the nuclear yield of Little Boy and four times that of Tsar Bomba, the most powerful nuclear device ever detonated.
Our Daily Screams
These days I'm reminded of "The Scream" every time a politician opens his or her mouth. It is particularly unnerving to hear President Obama speak of all the bad things that will happen to the nation when all of his ideas aren't rushed into law. I want to cover my ears and scream back into the skies. At this point what's really worse? The screams of the potential outcomes if the nation doesn't pile on more debt, punish the rich, control what people eat, rewrite the Constitution, and accept lower expectations for everything from education to economic gains numb the senses.
This has become a nation of fear and angst.
I'm not afraid of members of the NRA, rich people, fat people, people that believe in God. I am afraid for the nation by the notion that like those villagers that settled at Mount Bromo, sacrifices are being demand in the name of a kind of utopia. Sacrifices that will make it harder for our children to prosper. In a sense we are being asked to sacrifice our children. Amazingly, this notion is actually considered "fair" by so many proving, like those modern-day pilgrimages to mountain gods in East Java, mankind can cling to primitive notions if the screams are loud enough.
I disagree with President Obama that America's economy is on easy street and the only threat comes from sensible laws and spending cuts from Washington DC. Any hiccup in the economy of late hasn't come from people recoiling at Washington debates, but recoiling from new taxes and rules pouring out of the nation's capitol. And look for more adverse reactions as the new healthcare law kicks in, along with the payroll tax hike which forces many to save rather than spend.
The Sun Will Set...
Yes, the sun is setting and clouds are turning blood red but it's not because government isn't spending enough money it's because America is morphing into something it's never been- a place where the least amount of effort is deserving of the greatest reward. Our nation's debt is a volcano with blood-like lava percolating. It only has to blow over once and the things we are doing now don't stop it from grumbling and sadly give it more power.
America must mend its smoldering volcanoes before it's too late. It will mean some pain and perhaps temporary slower growth but ensure longer term prosperity. Instead it's a daily dose of angst and anger and fear - makes me want to scream!