“Life is the expression and fulfillment and celebration of beauty. This is what we are here for. We’re not here to do anything else.” (Sarah Susanka in The Not So Big Life)
Perhaps this is an odd sentiment, when so much in our country is going wrong these days. Aren’t we also here for justice, for compassion, for interconnection? But what is beauty anyway? Is it the unexpected sighting of a wild raccoon near the brook during a morning walk? Is it the fluid colors of the sky in the dawn? Is it a coating of ice or snow on the branches of every tree and bush in the neighborhood?
Why do these things enliven our souls? Perhaps beauty is the mark of an essential wholeness, a harmony we can recognize with our eyes, our ears, our hearts, our whole being. If that is the case, then I believe beauty also includes justice, compassion, interconnection. We recognize instinctively the wholeness within justice, within acts of kindness, the miracle of our interconnection.
Beauty has something to teach us about how to work for justice as well. To express and celebrate beauty is to turn our attention away from the ugly hatefulness we deplore, toward acts of creating what we aspire to. This is why I love permaculture and solar panels and work parties and gardens. We are bringing into being the wholeness we hope for. I am not saying that protests are not important as well. On the contrary.
But as Rebecca Solnit promises, in her book Hope in the Dark,
…if you embody what you aspire to, you have already succeeded. That is to say, if your activism is already democratic, peaceful, creative, then in one small corner of the world these things have triumphed. Activism, in this model, is not only a toolbox to change things but a home in which to take up residence and live according to your beliefs, even if it’s a temporary and local place… Make yourself one small republic of unconquered spirit.
May you be a beacon of beauty today!