BEAUTY, TRUTH AND GOODNESS
for Bruce Novak
Human beings are constituted to appreciate and assimilate three classic values: Beauty, Truth and Goodness. Our dedication to pursuing those values leads us toward Wisdom and expresses itself as Love.
Not to recognize or follow our innate inclination toward Beauty, Truth and Goodness betrays our deepest nature and leads us toward folly and suffering.
The germ of this thought occurred to me as I was walking our dogs around the neighborhood. First I noticed a wonderful wayside flower, whose name I don’t know (see above) planted there no doubt by a random bird dropping.
Then I wondered why it was beautiful. Botanists would say it looks as it does to attract pollinator insects who will perpetuate its kind. But do bugs appreciate beauty? More to the point, why do I delight in its colors and intricate design? Why am I constituted with a sense of beauty? Why can I look at even a modest leaf of that same flamboyant flower and find it fascinating and beautiful? What’s the reason for that—what’s the Truth of the matter?
And thus I moved in my thinking to the second item of the classic triad: Truth. I want to know what’s so. What’s the truth of this matter and of all other questions that matter to me? We humans are like that: we need food, clothing, shelter and truth. It’s just that basic.
And then we need Goodness—for goodness’ sake. We cannot thrive without enjoying the kindness of caregivers, whether kin or strangers. The essential value of unselfish generosity, even of sacrifices by us for others weaves the web of genial relationships into that social fabric our survival requires.
So there we are: Beauty delights us, Truth gratifies us, and Goodness sustains us.
Even so, it’s quite possible for people to ignore or reject all three of these supreme values and live in an erroneous mental world of ugliness, falsehood and evil. Many do, poor souls, and suffer accordingly, having strayed from the Way of Love and Wisdom, the way of human flourishing, down the Road of Ruination and Dismay.
With what hope for salvation?
Healing and health, the fruits of Love and Wisdom, await, like a wayside flower, those who turn and attend to what is most natural.