By William J. Havlicek, Ph.D.
Anyone familiar with Vincent Van Gogh knows how devoted he was to the welfare of the poor, especially children. So when I came across a publisher who had founded a charity for endangered children, I knew Van Goghs Untold Journey was in precisely the right hands.
Throughout his life Vincent was convinced that one was gauged not by personal gain but by how much one can bestow on others—the true measure of what one has attained in life. This is a Gospel principle best known universally as “love thy neighbor as thyself.” However imperfect human endeavors are, effort must be made to alleviate suffering where it is found. This innate ability resides in each of us. Vincent had in mind a very high ideal (shared by Charles Dickens (whom Vincent deeply admired and imitated throughout his life) which was to make the plight of the abandoned and neglected better known. Both of these men had experienced some degree of neglect and abandonment, experiences they never forgot, and like a curse turned to blessing, they transformed the curse into a cure. Their art was used like a balm to sooth and staunch suffering first for themselves therapeutically, and then for others.
Good art is always like that; based on real need and intended for real good. It is honest, directed and selfless in the best sense of those terms however idealistic that may sound. In fact, in the case of Vincent van Gogh and Charles Dickens, it was their idealism married to a gritty realism that gave their art its steady radiance. Both men were generous and charitable to a fault.
I would like to paraphrase Vincent who once wrote that in order to know God one needed to love many things, for God created all things and by loving many things one comes to know their Creator. Such inverse logic also applies to this book—in knowing the many things that Vincent created one comes to love him, and through that love to love his Creator, the Creator of the Universe. I dedicate this work to that ideal, and to the many people in this world who still share this hope.