The world will be saved by beauty! Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote that, Dorothy Day quoted it, and centuries before Jesus, Confucius made it central to his pedagogy. They were on to something. Beauty is a special language that cuts through and sidelines all the things that divide us – history, race, language, creed, ideology, politics, economic disparity, gender, sexual identity, and personal wounds. Beauty melts down all differences. Its speech, like that of a newborn, has no explicit words, but is a language so perfect that it can only be soiled by violating oneself. Two things in this world cannot be argued with, beauty and a baby. They also cannot defend themselves, and have only their own vulnerability as protection.
In classical Western philosophy, beauty is seen as one of the transcendental properties of being, and therefore as one of the properties of God. God is understood as having four transcendental qualities, namely, as being One, True, Good, and Beautiful. Hence, beauty possesses a divine, sacred quality. Artists and everyone sensitive to aesthetics have always recognized this, not necessarily in that they affirm explicitly that beauty is a property of God, but that they recognize a godly quality in beauty; they sense a “blaspheme” whenever it is defaced, and feel the energy to create as divine.
Beauty, as we know, takes many forms. Who of us has not at times felt the stunning power of physical beauty? Who has not been momentarily transfixed by the beauty of a sunset, an ocean, a mountain range, the stars, a full moon, a desert landscape, a particular tree, a thunderstorm, fresh snow, a gentle rain, an animal in the wild, a work of art or architecture, or a human body? Physical beauty is self-justifying. It cannot be argued with and may never be denigrated by an appeal to something higher and more spiritual. It is unequivocally real and thus needs to be recognized, affirmed, and blessed.