“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread.”
--John Muir, 19th-century environmentalist
It is time to reconnect with nature. The human spirit cannot thrive on material progress alone. From the Group of Seven who were inspired by the Canadian Landscape to Metis artist, Christi Belcourt, who explores the mysteries of the natural world, beauty is deeply embedded in our culture. Even after the horrors of the Second World War, the U.K. government created an act that ensured the spiritual, cultural, and physical wellbeing of their citizens through the designation of National Parks and the protection of Cultural Heritage. But we seemed to have lost sight of these values. A recent Guardian article explores the history of beauty in society and how our contemporary culture has embraced economic progress in favour of the many things in life that money cannot buy. We have degraded the natural resources we depend on because we have lost sight of beauty. Author, Fiona Reynolds, calls for a revival of the fight for beauty. It is not just about aesthetics, she describes, rather “it is a way of looking at the world that values the things we can’t put a material price on”. We’d improve our quality of life without “striving for unsustainable levels of growth”.
Tom Thomson (1877-1917), Autumn Foliage, between 1916-17, image source via Wikimedia Commons.