We need beauty now — more than ever.
By Shira White
Beauty has been assaulted and overlooked lately. That’s why, when we look around, our field of vision is largely filled with stories of violence, hatred, atrocities — humanity at its worst. People who hate and destroy aren’t very connected to beauty. They don’t see, feel, understand, or care about it.
Of course, beauty is subjective and influenced by our culture. And, it’s become more fashionable, in many cultures, to celebrate the ugly, brash, decaying, dying, dead, violent, alarming, frightening, offensive, abusive, and dangerous, as well as the mediocre and tacky. Which came first, the supply or demand for this stuff? That’s debatable. But either way, the fact is that we are hungry, perhaps starving, for more… We are desperately in need of more beauty.
Humans have evolved to appreciate beauty, the way no other species has. We care about it for a reason. Many reasons, actually. Beauty helps us to calm down, feel love, feel empathy, feel sexy, and feel purposeful. Beauty inspires us. It makes us think of concepts that are greater than we are. Beauty makes us care more. Beauty helps us heal. Beauty gives us hope.
Yet, beauty is hard to find. Beyond being indundated with bad news and negative entertainment, we are overwhelmed by seas of mediocrity and endless data. Usually, we don’t have time to look for beauty. Most people don’t know where to look or even know what to look for exactly.
No matter where you find it…. in art, in science, in a special place or a special person, in an experience, or in a moment — -when you discover and connect with something beautiful, it makes you better — physiologically, emotionally, spiritually, and cognitively.
So today, as I sit with the news, still reeling about the Charleston shootings, immersed in the predominance of other negative headlines, topped off with the utterly sad news about my dear friend Jules dying this morning, I long to connect with something beautiful. I need it more than ever now. It’s the best way I know to lift myself and move forward with hope of helping to create something better.
There are many things that need to change if we are to end racism, terrorism, and other sources of human pain. One thing that can help make change happen is a greater connection to beauty.
People who hate aren’t experiencing beauty. And they certainly don’t see the beauty in the people they seek to destroy. People who destroy our environment don’t see the beauty in it. They haven’t learned to see or care about beauty.
The Charleston shooter, who executed his own ugly plan for ethnic cleansing, claims he did not get his racist drive from his family upbringing. But someone, somewhere, taught him to hate. Someone taught him to want to kill. Someone taught him how to kill. And obviously, he is not the only one… not the lone wolf as some, who can’t bear to look at the root cause, suggest.
Imagine if we were taught to find and appreciate beauty in diversity and in each other. Imagine if we were made more aware of beautiful things that exist right now — or beautiful things being newly discovered, created, and accomplished now. Imagine if we were sensitized more to beauty vs desensitized to violence.
Imagine if we were more aware of the hidden, unexplored, undeciphered beauty that exists right now in the universe — in nature and science, in medicine, in humanity, and in creative expression.
Imagine if we knew, saw, and understood more about beauty in our own backyards, as well as in the most outer of spaces. Imagine if we learned to experience and celebrate more beauty in each other.
I gave myself a daily homework assignment a few years ago, to find something beautiful and spend a few moments connecting with it every day. The exercise transformed me. And it developed into my passion. And I continue it to this day. Now, it is a driving force behind practically everything I create and do every day. It’s the mission behind my company, BeautifulNow. It makes me a better artist, writer, mother, and friend.
Today, as I navigate my sadness and my angst, I reach for beauty. And tomorrow, which I hope will be a better, brighter day, I will reach for beauty as well. I will make sure to always find, and try to give, a Daily Fix of something exceptionally beautiful because I believe that beauty has the power to fuel healthy bodies, minds, and spirits, and to drive positive change.
What can I do? Help discover, create and share beauty, now more than ever. It is the essence of all I know.