As we progress through life, we all pick up references from different sources. These sources can be environomental, familial, societal, or experiential. For example, have you ever tried to describe the taste of celery to anyone who has never tasted celery? To what would you compare it? You can’t just say that it tastes good or bad, since you don’t have a reference for the other person’s taste buds. These references cause us to form opinions about the things and the people that we see and meet along the way. So, when we meet someone that has had different experiences, we need to determine if we are looking at the world through the same set of glasses. When I say I am hungry, I usually just mean that I haven’t eaten in the last few hours. When a destitute person says they are hungry, it could very well mean that they haven’t eaten for days. So, the references we have had and the opinions we have based on those references cause us to see the world from different perspectives.
Think about the word “beautiful” and what comes to mind? For some, it is mountains, for others, it is seascapes, and to a hungry person, fields of grain could be the most beautiful sight in the world. I like what John Cage had to say about “beuatiful”—“The first question I ask myself when something doesn’t seem to be beautiful is ‘why do I think it’s not beautiful?’. And very shortly I discover that there is no reason.”
Does this mean that everything in the world is beautiful? No, of course not, hunger, violence, abuse, and prejudices are not meant to be beautiful. That brings us to the real question. How do we perceive and respond to those who think these things are beautiful?