“Beauty will save the world.” This bold statement was penned by Fyodor Dostoevskh, the dynamic Russian author. Preposterous? Hyperbole? A pipe dream? Maybe, yet…
Acts of beauty quicken our collective soul. The university student, unarmed, vulnerable, blocking the line of tanks in Tiananmen Square. Such acts of beauty become seared onto our collective soul.
As you’ve already garnered, I’m not referring to the superficial or hollow that preens about and declares itself beautiful. Rather I’m looking to real beauty, to the authentic beauty of substance that deeply touches us. A beauty that calls us beyond ourselves. A beauty that gently taps us on the shoulder and softly whispers in our ear. Can you hear it?
We can listen to beauty’s faint whisper or tune it out. Free will. And there are ever so many distractions. Our cell phones, FaceBook, YouTube, politics, the economy, work, etc. But turning our backs on beauty is akin to eating cotton candy. It may taste good at the time, but you end up feeling empty.
Beauty is subversive. Yes, something as inspiring as beauty is a threat to regimens throughout the world. Beauty is the enemy of oppression and dominance. After all, it wakes us up. It’s so much harder to influence and control a culture that is awake. Nazi Germany was quick to ban, even destroy art, architecture and literature that touched the spirit.
Draconian regimes know, and fear, the power of beauty. China destroyed the magnificent temples of Tibet. Visionaries frequently end up imprisoned. Eras of wisdom have been sacrificed in mass book burnings. The list goes on and on. Beauty is a threat to the stunted, the fearful, to all who seek to control others. Beauty is liberating, not controlling.
Most recently, Notre Dame burned and the world let out a collective gasp. No matter what religion. No matter what part of the world you called home. The loss was felt.
Beauty is an endangered species.
Forget art, architecture and literature. Crimes, overt and covert, are routinely, and systematically being perpetrated against the most sublime beauty – people. And let us not forget beauty’s first cousins, the animals.
I used to be a professional portrait photographer and marveled at the inherent beauty in a face. Sadly, the subject being photographed was often blind to their own beauty. No matter, it still shown through. Beauty can’t be suppressed.
So, what does all this have to do with counseling? A lot. I strongly believe good counseling releases the client to their beauty. Their unique beauty. This then, isn’t just liberating for the client, but for all they come in contact with. Beauty, by it’s very nature, is free, flowing, giving. Everyone wins when they allow themselves to be moved by beauty.
Granted, there’s a lot of ugliness out there. However, know beauty is ultimately more powerful. Any temporary ugliness is out shined in beauty’s radiance. Keep a brave heart. Never underestimate the power of your smile or good intentions towards another. Beauty will save the world – and you and me, too.