The titles of two recent books - Sally Rooney’s “Beautiful World, Where Are You” and Charles Eisenstein’s “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible” - seem to speak to a growing sentiment today: disappointment at the failures of modern society and a yearning for an idyllic future world more beautiful and wise than our own.
When I see this “more beautiful world” idea come up, a part of me protests.
I do think a more beautiful world is possible and obviously worth striving for. A world more prosperous, just, and in harmony with Earth would certainly be more beautiful than one that is less so. And it’s of real value to envision and embody that more beautiful world.
And yet: is our world today really not beautiful enough?
From where I stand, our world right now today is almost unimaginably beautiful. Earth itself is teeming with spectacular life, land, and water. Humans across the world continuously create works of beauty, courage, and genius. And billions of us spend our lives committed to loving our family, friends, and communities.
We face many urgent problems that deserve our urgent attention. Of course. But a lack of beauty is not one of them.
We so often spend our energy decrying what we see as the ugly parts of the world. Sometimes it even feels like an intentional strategy to inspire action. Perhaps our "more beautiful world" will come about more swiftly and fully if we spend more of our energy simply in awe of the preposterously beautiful world right before our eyes already.