Too much of the conversation about social change is wrapped in the language of policy and finance. While these are important considerations they are limited in describing and realizing the world we want.

We need a different language. I propose the language of beauty. Beauty is proxy for the aesthetic, for those qualities that attract us, inspire us and sustain us.

In his poem Crush, spoken word artist Shane Koyczan adds texture to what I mean by beauty:

when a 10 year old girl can go on to shock three bullies into silence;                                                                                         

you know that you have determined your lifelong definition of beautiful.

Courage is beautiful. So is dignity, joy, intimacy, music, pleasure, forgiveness, mystery, fun, desire, commitment, dancing, grace, generosity, hospitality, celebration, peace, eating slowly together… You know what I mean.

Carlo Petrini founder of the international Slow Food movement believes, “everyone has a fundamental right to pleasure.” What a refreshing change from the moral righteousness that so often is the only message people hear when we talk about social change. Most of us want to be lifted by song and dancing not burdened by what’s going wrong, what must be done.

Think of the number of times you exclaim, ‘that’s beautiful’ in response to something someone says or does, or something you see or feel. The language of beauty is everywhere and worth infusing into the lexicon of social change and social innovation.

Social change is earnest, relentless and serious. So is beauty.

Let’s beautify as much as we politicize and budgetize.

Beauty Eh!

Find a way to make beauty necessary, find a way to make necessity beautiful.         

     -Anne Michaels from Fugitive Pieces

Why did everything
Every little thing, every little thing
With you and me have to be so political?
– by John Mann, Spirit of the West

And here’s the link to the song. Weren’t they beautiful young men then? Note: Some e-mail platforms may not display embedded video properly. Click here and you’ll be redirected to youtube.

One Comment

  1. Sean McEwen

    Brilliant point of view – one that can be put to good use.

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