It’s Only Beauty That Will Save The World Now
A few things I find captivating whenever I hear this song… In the lyric’s narrative, a father sits a young boy down in front of the TV news and urges him to look on, to absorb the horrendous events transpiring in the world, with the accompanying words “don’t look away son, you’ve got to be strong, you’ve got to be bold now, in the end it is beauty that’s going to save the world now”. The lyrics, from the song are predominantly concerned with fawning over a beautiful woman, are a far cry from the themes of their author’s back catalogue, which hosts some of the darkest, most lyrically violent neo-punk lyrics imaginable. Ground breaking for his time if only in a very secular circle of fans, the author’s lyrical muscle has only compounded over a career now well into maturity. The dark stuff from younger, more radical days is cool and dangerous, sure, but it’s this particular musician’s turn to exploring themes of beauty, a devotion to the craft of the love song, a realm barely any moderately established artist dare not attempt that I’ve found most intriguing. I’ve heard it said that “you don’t find great songs, great songs find you”. Indeed.
I wonder if the father’s notion of “beauty” he says can save the world can be interpreted as “truth”, and perhaps the truth about ourselves can be viewed as that divided aspect of our humanity, a horribly damaged and critically restless condition from which we all suffer, and least want to admit to, let alone take steps to accept and attempt to remedy.
The events the boy witnessed that night on television are portrayed in the song lyrics as “some ordinary slaughter, some routine atrocity”, words that speak volumes as to the extent of our numbness to repeated exposure to images of human suffering, horror and hopelessness. Yet in terms of the impact these events make on my empathy for my fellow man as an individual, I may as well be watching a sitcom. The bad things that happen in the world are committed by uncivilised people to other uncivilised people, and as long as I stay away from there, I’ll be o.k. Such is my Apathy. My sense of humanity like that of so many others is warped, or at best dormant, woken only by extreme personal crisis, and even then all too quick to receed into denial. Even with communication technology effectively shrinking the world and global events become public almost as they happen, my selfish life goes on with little thought to anything or anyone else, and I call people fighting for what they believe in under enormous oppression “mad”.
I fear however that were my closely guarded apathetic tendencies be overturned, mere delusion would remain. The notion of me or anyone attempting to save the world seems almost a farcical notion. You don’t have to look far to witness a myriad of new age charlatans, religious movements, self-help and motivational solutions, fitness crazes, all boasting to possess a secret ingredient, a competitive edge that will make a real difference to the world, and ultimately yourself, with your commitment. To me, and I feel not alone, these are mere rearrangements of our condition without a real acknowledgement, without honesty as to the root of the problem. I would rather be arrogantly realistic than gullible and idealistic. What remains if one attempts to make a difference, save the world from a base of genuine love of humanity, abandons one’s apathy, only to come up empty handed? Fearful stuff.
But imagine if the world could get to that point, where despite all the blood shed and all the causes, if we all agreed on the nature of the core problem, would that not result in a tsunami of understanding with real change a possibility?
Not to be simplistic though. If the world downed tools, stopped working out, worshipping or getting wasted, if we lost the inspiration of beauty in whatever form we recognise it, the whole show would surely be in flames. But if the world could be sat down and the extent of our divided nature revealed, our upset exposed for what it truly is with a sure hand of understanding, could not a universal resolution be reached and a Transformation of the human race? As the words of the song describe, the world desperately needs that father figure, that guiding hand, one without prejudice or agenda, that can sit us a species down and help us see a way forward. Wake us from our spell. Help us give a damn about each other.
Jason thinks and feels deeply about the problems on this planet. He wants to be able to understand and find a solution.