Why do we hurt?


Courtesy of jplenio/Adobe Spark

In his column, staff writer Nawaf Althawadi argues that happiness and beauty are tied to nature, writing “Are pillars of stone not a result of humanity mimicking the colossal, elegant nature of trees?”

It’s no secret that the collective mental state of modern people, specifically those who live in more technologically advanced countries, has been on a constant downward spiral for decades. Considering that the suicide rate has increased 35 percent from 1999 to 2018, according to the CDC, it is hard to ignore this fact. 

Scientists and researchers will spend their entire lives dedicated to figuring out the source of this issue. Is it social media, or maybe fast food? Perhaps it’s a lack of religious faith? All of these might be factors, but they may never understand that the issue is much broader than they could ever imagine. 

Fyodor Dostoevsky, Russian novelist and author of Crime and Punishment, said, “Humanity can live without science, it can live without bread, but it cannot live without beauty. Without beauty, there would be nothing left to do in this life. Here the secret lies. Here lies the entire story.” 

Dostoevsky was completely right. The slow death of the collective human mental state directly corresponds with the death of beauty, which is what I believe to be the underlying factor devastating many of us. 

We’ve embraced the ugly for far too long, and it’s taken a serious toll on our combined mental health. Beautiful cathedrals with intricate designs have been replaced with big box stores and skyscrapers. 

Magnificent paintings forcing onlookers to think deeply about their meaning have been replaced with a Black Square and a banana taped to a wall

Years ago, musical artists managed to create astonishing pieces of art without even having to implement lyrics, but now we praise music promoting the pursuit of short term pleasure as opposed to long term fulfillment and happiness. 

This is all cataclysmic, however, it brings up a very pertinent question: how is the death of beauty linked to this downward spiral?

Beauty gives us all a reason to live, whether we realize it or not. It is the driving force that gives us all our purpose and meaning in life. Unlike humanity, nature is inherently beautiful. Every impurity found on this Earth is a result of our neglect and our neglect alone, each a scar to tell the tragic story of a devolving species. This is not to say that humanity is ugly by design, however.

Our divine purpose is to indulge in, learn from, and, most importantly, add to the beauty of nature. Become captivated by the simple symmetry of a leaf, learn from it, and apply it to greater goals. Are pillars of stone not a result of humanity mimicking the colossal, elegant nature of trees?

We have drifted away from this original destiny and filled the resulting void with dopamine deposits, such as money, sex, and drugs, that give us short-term pleasure.

Many of us get caught up in our fleeting moments on this earth and use them as an excuse to live for pleasure rather than to live for strength, self-control, fulfillment, and posterity, and this is what has ultimately caused this downward spiral we are seeing in real time. 

Pleasure does not help us grow. It does not add beauty to this earth. In a lot of ways, the more we live for pleasure, the uglier the world gets. The sort of “lazy pleasure” that many people seek merely brings short-term happiness, and in the long-term, causes us to be bitter, ultimately adding more ugly to the world. We must stop taking the lazy route to a limited pleasure and happiness and instead see them as a result of the fulfillment that shared beauty with nature brings. 

In short, long-term happiness comes from fulfillment, and fulfillment comes from bringing beauty to the world.

So what exactly is beauty, and, in contrast, what is ugly? Although we each might have our own conscious interpretations of beauty and ugly, I believe our subconscious holds its own more accurate radar that sees beauty and ugly in line with nature.

To this radar of sorts in our deep subconscious, beauty is aiding the elderly. Beauty is order and, in some ways, it is also chaos. It is community, family, culture, and identity. Beauty is a violin solo. Beauty is the inspiration that causes the first stroke of that paint brush on a canvas and it is the final product stemming from that first stroke. Beauty is human architecture that mimics nature. Beauty is childhood innocence. Beauty is dissipating ugly. 

Beauty is everything that nature has to offer, and everything humanity does to mimic and uplift nature. 

Ugly is everything humanity does that acts against nature, which refers to both mother nature and human nature. 

Circling back to the original issue, what exactly is the cure? How do we fight back against this maelstrom of mental depression we’re collectively fighting against? How can one contribute to nature’s beauty? How can one reach a sufficient level of fulfillment in old age to be content with their final breath leaving their physical body forever? 

There are many ways to go about this. Seek a meaningful profession, one that you enjoy partaking in and that brings an abundance of beauty to the world. Perhaps little things such as gathering your community together and ridding parks and sidewalks of garbage. Personally, I believe that having a family and raising your children to be the best possible versions of themselves is both the most basic and the most efficient way to go about this, but I understand that that life is not necessarily for everyone.

When we see ugly, we feel drained, unmotivated and depressed. This attitude rubs off on those around us, and it spreads. This cycle tailspins forever, and has brought us to where we are today. But when we are in the presence of beauty, we feel as we naturally should. Inspired, driven, proud. Imagine how much our moods would be affected if beauty was more deeply integrated into our lives. 

Imagine undergoing your daily foot-distance commute to school or work under aweing pieces of architectural achievement, with detailed floral patterns, towering marble columns, and other designs copying that of nature. Imagine passing massive statues of your nation’s greatest warriors, with the morning sun rising above their dome. Imagine our families and communities being more profoundly intertwined, never having been pulled apart by trivial matters. I believe these alone would collectively uplift us immensely. 

Do not ever again let the ugly demotivate you. Focus on the beauty in the world, become captivated by it, learn from it. Use it as inspiration to grow yourself so that you may be better suited to make your contribution to nature’s beauty, and influence others to do the same. 


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