The premise here is that Dostoevsky speaks of a fallen world that needs saving and offers hope on where rescuing comes from, a beauty transcendent of aesthetics — The Divine. It is easy to dismiss this quote as hopelessly naive or optimistic when taken out of context. Such naivety is in fact unlikely for someone like Dostoevsky who was no stranger to extreme suffering. His sorrow became the anchor to finding redemption in beauty that holds space for both pain and joy.
Humanity has a natural appetite for the beautiful when we press on to shine a light on what is beautiful in us or when we actively sense it around us. No matter our differences in how we define beauty, what is perhaps common is our hunger for it.
This seeking of what at first is superficial beauty is in fact a foreshadowing of what our being and spirit truly yearns for — the presence and the experience of what inspires the best in us, of what is good and true, of what gives us value and connects us. This active seeking of beauty will eventually lead us to the profound and transformational, rendering the superficial and skin-deep unsatisfying.
Beauty Inspires Changemaking
More often, in the context of a developing nation marred with extreme poverty and corruption, the access to beauty (and its tools) that is transformative is limited and unfairly distributed. For the past decades, I have personally found the process of designing, which encompasses actions such as deep listening, connecting, collaborative leading and creating, a tangible and accessible way to pursue this profound beauty.
To design is an activation of our individual sense of agency to redeem what is problematic and unfavorable into something beautiful. This person who has recognized and acted on their agency to transform circumstances around self and others is in fact a changemaker, and the process of designing has made the transformative effect of giving and finding beauty accessible to everyone.
Beauty Inspires Bravery
My personal bios always starts with:
[I] believe we can shape the future we deserve.”
You may remove and edit out anything in my bios except this. It is a statement of deep conviction — a manifesto that each of us have agency to design our present and future. We are never victims. No one around us will be a victim until those of us who recognize we have agency to make things beautiful for ourselves and others decide to stand on the side only to watch and do nothing. Indeed the future belongs to the brave and they shall pave the way for beauty to save the world. Design is our accessible means to forge on.
Beauty Inspires Experience
The brave can take humanity’s pain and joy together. Know that they come from the same fiber that brings forth beautiful moments and experiences.
The practice of weaving beauty amidst pain and joy is the practice of designing experiences — awakening the senses to create what is memorable and transformational.
What if we all participate in this transformational design process? What if we design every present moment, held in the knowledge of pain and joy, to be memorable and life-enriching?
I will take a pause here and share more in Part Two about specific tools and insights from my practice in the past 5 years that I have found effective and meaningful in scaling transformation to areas in our life that deeply disempower and frustrate us, namely governance and access of public services.
Catch you later.