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Beauty and Dignity

I don't believe that this world needs to be as ugly as it is. Yes, there things in this life which are ugly and unpleasant no matter what we may do. There are emotions, situations, relationships and moments which are hard to bear and no matter what we do, we can't change it. There is so much we cannot control, so much that rests in God's hands. We may try, but we can't change it. On the other hand, there is so much we humans can change, buildings, parks, clothing, objects, ourselves. We can make so much of our world more beautiful, in every way.

What does being surrounded by ugliness do to a person? What does being surrounded by an almost-intentional ugliness do to people? When we look around and are reminded of almost only the ugly parts of the world and ourselves, how do we begin to think about ourselves? The world? Do we dream anymore? Do we feel anything beautiful? Or, are the feelings we feel, ugly? It beats us down, crushes us, makes us sad, makes us feel insignificant in the most tragic ways. We don't feel insignificant in the way we may when we pray or think about God, eternity, our fleeting moments on earth, yet eternal life in the world to come. We feel insignificant like we are a bug, like we are something that can just be thrown away. We feel a fatalist-brutalist-nihilistic insignificance. We feel as if nothing matters.

Most of us can't control buildings, we are not all architects and builders. Most of us can't control parks, we are not village planners. Most of us can't control the design of objects because we are not inventors. We can control our clothing and ourselves. We can control how we look and even how we feel. We can control our own very little world. And that little world that we control and create is also shown to the larger world and can even make the larger world more beautiful. You can be something beautiful, a part which is beautiful in the world. When we present ourselves with dignity and beauty, we help make the world a more beautiful place. We are taking action within the world, and by our very being as a sign of dignity and beauty, we are changing the world, making it beautiful.

This is not something that is only for those "of means". In fact, today, this lack of dignity and lack of beauty is found across all classes. Wealthy, middle class and the working class are all influenced by this drift toward an embrace of insignificance and ugliness. The wealthy individual may spend lots of money on a shirt, pair of pants or a jacket but they aren't beautiful. They are paying for a name and to make themselves feel like they are signaling to others that they are "of means". The garments the wealthy usually wear are utilitarian in the worst way, ugly and often childish. Maybe the garment of the working class is of lower quality, isn't from a "trendy" brand, but, more often that not, it isn't any more ugly than the garment the wealthy individual wears. All worship faux-comfortability and just spend different amounts on that comfortability. If our grandfathers were brought to us today to sit in a store and tell us who is wealthy and who isn't, they would have hard time telling us who. This ugliness is found across all classes. The degrees to which you can tell someone's class based on their clothing today is so minuscule and so insignificant that it is like telling the difference between the level of carbonation found in a coca cola that has been flat for 3 days vs a coca cola that has been flat for 4 days. It is a distinction without a difference.

Just as all people across all classes suffer from this influence of ugliness, all people across all classes can change this and live beautiful lives. It does not require a fortune to be a force of beauty in the world. It absolutely does not. If anybody ever says it does, they are lying or gravely mistaken. If they are lying, they are doing so, intentionally or unintentionally. They are wealthy and by claiming that it requires a fortune to live beautifully it helps to discourage those not like them from ever making at attempt to live beautifully. It also reaffirms their own understanding of what it means to be themselves. It is gaslighting intentional or not. If they are mistaken, they may be mistaken about the correlation or lack-thereof between the price of something and how beautiful it is. They may be mistaken about this because they haven't spent much time analyzing the scene, and just accept the commonly promulgated idea about this correlation. Living beautifully through controlling, choosing, curating your clothing and personal style is possible for everyone, of all means, the starting point of entry is just a bit different depending on your situation.

While all classes suffer from this ugliness, there is one way in which the middle, working and lower classes suffer to a greater extent. To put it very simply, when everything in one's life is going great and easy financially, one usually is in less need of external factors to remind oneself of one's worth. Because of the way we understand money in our society, many people, sadly, understand their worth as linked to their financial stability and so if one is doing well financially, the lack of beauty and external reminders of one's dignity and worth is not particularly crushing or important because the money takes care of that. So, while the wealthy may indeed live in ugliness, their worth isn't usually questioned by themselves, and if so, it isn't so terribly crushing because there is always a fleeting reminder to keep them above water.

The case is not the same among middle class and working class. Often times, these people, normal people, will have financial struggles and all other sorts of stresses which are related to those financial struggles. It can be very easy for these people, normal people, to get pretty down about themselves and their future and self worth. What beauty, and a reminder of dignity brings to people in their time of need is not something small or trivial. For someone going through a really tough time, any reminder of their dignity or self worth, or beauty can be what they need to help make them carry on a bit more or make the world seem a little less dark. I am not speaking from above it all, detached as some wealthy individual. I am a normal person, a man of the middle class. My struggles and life are common struggles. If someone dismisses these ideas, it is because they are lying or they have never experienced any time of difficulty in their lives. I truly believe that if more men dressed with dignity, there would be less despair and hopelessness among men today. Is it a cure for everything? No, of course not, it is not. What it is, is an attempt to elevate us, separate us from beasts, help reinforce, build up and remind us of dignity.

Our clothing is the only thing with us almost 24 hours a day. The only time we are without clothes is when we are bathing. Every other moment of our lives, until we pass away, we are clothed. We are not in our homes 24 hours a day, we are not in nature 24 hours a day, we are not even handling objects 24 hours a day. Yet, we are in our clothes almost 24 hours a day. Our clothing is the most intimately linked item to ourselves throughout the course of our life, whether we like it our not. Our clothing is closely against our body, it will take on our scent, it is intimately with us all of our life. Other than our clothes, what element is more important, intimate and always present with us in this material world and more worthy of our attention, when we are discussing beauty?

Dressing with dignity and beauty is not a vain pursuit. It isn't shallow, it isn't pointless. Many pretend it is because they have accepted the ugliness and lived too long in it to understand what it is. It doesn't have to be this way. It is my hope that more men will come to understand this, more men will seek dignity and penetrate the deeper layers of meaning in this, and hopefully our world will one day be more beautiful, both aesthetically, and spiritually.

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