My Beauty as Power posts have generated emails regarding teaching what beauty is. Unfortunately, even though beauty is extremely subjective, we’re often taught it in a “one size fits all” perspective. Consequently, we often confuse beauty with popularity. Tossing that aside for the moment, it’s difficult to learn about beauty without learning appreciation.
For example, most people find maggots extremely ugly and gross. However, Maggot Therapy involves injecting maggots into body parts to remove gangrene so they can heal. By doing so, patients avoid amputation. This happens because maggots only eat dead organic material and are extremely thorough about it. Now, to people on the verge of losing limbs to gangrene, they learn to appreciate the beauty of maggots’ work very quickly.
Something similar happens to men when women nurse them back to health. Many movies play upon this theme such as Witness and Hang ‘Em High. In medical facilities, it’s not unusual to have seriously injured male patients become attached to their nurses. They learn to appreciate the dedication and healing power of women whom they would not have considered otherwise.
As a more humorous example, there is Tom Sawyer’s fence painting. Tom’s given the undesirable task of painting a fence; however, by exhorting the virtues of fence painting to his friends, his friends come to appreciate the “privilege” of doing it for him by paying him.
As other examples, antiques, family heirlooms and memorabilia become more beautiful to us when we appreciate the story, memories and people behind them. Thus, appreciation is a process by which we learn to value something. Since we value beauty, it’s hard to learn about beauty without learning how to appreciate things . . . and people. Teach people appreciation, and you will teach them beauty.