the gentle power of loveliness

I've never believed loveliness could save the world. We need the austerity of laws, sometimes even the brutality of wars, to extract us from our worst moments. Even if we loved everyone sincerely from the moment they were born, there would still be forces beyond our control causing people to make bad choices. Loveliness, though, saves our souls.

As I rode through my little roadway of cottages this morning, looking up at a blue but soggy sky, I felt so strongly the beauty of the world that I couldn't help but smile. My heart lifted to join the song of the birds. I thought of the clover and wild lillies I'd seen yesterday, the magnolia trees in bloom, the rain that had fallen, the smile of an invalid woman in her garden, the delicious warm apple crumble with cream - so much loveliness - and I was imbued with hope.

Beauty is all around us: in the wildflowers, the spied-upon smiles, the students standing against nazis, the poems. It is our heritage and our blessing. But then, laws are beautiful too in their benevolence. And while wars are not beautiful, the impulse to protect innocent people and quell evil is, although I wish it had a simpler, softer power against cruelty. I wish for a vast army of the kind-hearted to spread out across the lands, speaking tenderly to those educated in hatred, comforting those full of fear, finding food for those made desperate and mentally unbalanced by starvation, finding blankets for those who are overwhelmed. Because of course without the hatreds, fears, and desperation of the masses, evil would never secure a throne.

(So maybe loveliness could save the world after all.)


  1. i like this. i need beauty to stay alive. maybe we all do, or at least need it to help us stay soft.

    i cannot say how very much i love the ida of "a vast army of the kind-hearted" spreading through this vexed world... more tenderness = less cruelty, i'm certain of it.

    meanwhile, my country falls apart around me due to a long and egregious lack of tenderness. must the world always burn? must we always betray our own better nature?

    (and still i will not stop loving.)

  2. Oh my gosh, I had to re-read your third paragraph again for the tears in my eyes. It's rare that writing affects me so strongly. When it does, it's often yours my dear Sarah.

  3. Thank you both so much :-) I am actually obsessed with the idea of an army of kind-hearted. I think it would be so amazing. I know we have a lot of charities, but imagine if a country had an army trained to help people, to bring comfort, to hand out tea and blankets ... New Zealand's army does do a lot of this kind of work, we are renowned peacekeepers and often go in after natural disasters to help with survival efforts and rebuilding. Imagine a country spending its defence budget on blankets and hammers, and training for crisis counselling,etc. Imagine soldiers pouring into a troubled African country and feeding people, digging wells, planting fields of diverse crops ... I wonder what would happen with all those guerilla gangs made violent and crazy from drugs and starvation if air force helicopters bombarded them with chocolate and milk powder.

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