Embracing Beauty and the Dance of Life in the Face of Violence

Embracing Beauty and the Dance of Life in the Face of Violence

There is a great need within the human condition to embrace beauty in the face of horror. We live in a troubled world. It has always been a troubled world. It seems a bit more troubled, of late, with terrorist attacks upon innocent people by groups who are nihilist by nature and enjoy killing more than living. The desire to seek beauty in life goes back through recorded time. This desire precedes recorded time; far earlier cultures drew on cave walls and painted their own bodies and faces with the juice of berries and plants before written language existed. Killing can be traced back just as far. There is killing on a smaller tribal scale – where warriors in one tribe hunted down their tribal enemies, cutting off the heads of the opposition and subsequently kicking those heads around the campfire, or posting them on assorted spikes and trees. We have, as well, killing on a far larger scale in World War One and World War Two, clearly showing us that killing runs deep in human beings. The nearly successful attempt of the Nazi regime to kill all the Jews of Europe illustrates this point quite well. One must also consider the crusades, which ran for decades and in which many were killed in the name of this or that god. And yet, all through human development, individuals have sought beauty in the visual arts, music, dance, poetry and film. We are a complicated species capable of much love and grace and at the same time capable of much horror and destruction. When Matisse painted ‘the dance’, his great...