Last night, I was part of a group writing out their values for a better university.
Someone offered beauty.
What a great value: when we later got to prioritising all the values, beauty was certainly in my top six.
Everyone ought to have the opportunity to be beautiful in how the choose to live their lives, and, to be able to create the beautiful for others.
Where are the most liberating and creative places for you?*
The world is many times ugly. We know this only too well.**
Beauty, then, is a choice Humans make.
In between beauty and ugly there’s a lot of “static”: neither-one-nor-the-other-stuff.
Life will have a lot of this which we live with; what we need to make sure is we introduce beauty (which does go on trees but can also be made), and make sure we don’t add to the ugly.
One source suggests the beautiful life is hospitality, goodness, self-control, discipline, and encouragement. Another suggests it’s about people who make extraordinary choices, see the bigger system, they are organisationally, relationally, emotionally, and intellectually intelligent.^
I don’t offer these in a prescriptive way, only to ask the question:
What are the marks of the beautiful for you?
The lists have in common internal and external qualities for beauty.
When it comes to the internal, Otto Scharmer suggests: ‘The way we pay attention – the place from which we operate – is the blind spot on all levels of the society.’
The exploration of the internal source or centre of our lives should hold no fear for us, as Eckhart Tolle points out, ‘You do not become good by trying to be good, but by finding the goodness that is already within you.’^^
Some believe beauty is scarce and they become gatekeepers guard the scarcity; yet what we find when people are encouraged towards beauty is an abundance.
More beauty, please.
(*I think I found myself in one this morning, when I was visiting the Grassmarket Community Project in Edinburgh.)
(**I think of Annie Dillard’s descriptions of so many maimed and marked animals in her evocative Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, there are the natural tsunamis and ebola, and Human Ugly in he form of ISIS and the Syrian authorities, to name two from far too many forms.
(^The first list comes from a Christian pastoral letter from Paul to Titus, the second from Peter Senge in The Necessary Revolution.)
(^^From Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth, emphasis mine.)