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Can Beauty Save The World? Luis Haza’s Answer

 

Luis’ father was Chief of Police in Santiago, Cuba when Fidel Castro first gained power and forced an end to Batista’s government. At first, Col. Haza gladly supported the Castro brothers, believing that a sparkling new era of freedom was just on the horizon. But, like many Cubans, he openly objected when the new regime admitted its Communist intentions.

Like all revolutionaries, Castro then methodically began to kill or imprison anyone in any position of authority who did not value the new rules and turn of events. Thus, the Chief of Police and seventy other men were lined up in a nearby cow pasture and shot for their lack of appreciation.

Eight-year-old Luis Haza found solace for his grief only when funneling energy and attention into violin lessons. By age eleven, he began performing solos all over the country. When he was twelve, the Castro regime “invited” him to perform for a gala television special to be shown nationwide.

Instead, Luis chose not to show up for his great “honor.” A few days later, a group of armed soldiers stormed his home, broke into his practice studio, and demanded that he play for them – or else.

Trembling, the young lad picked up his bow and violin. Slowly, gingerly he began to play just as the soldiers had insisted. But the government thugs were stupefied into silence and paralyzed with uncertainty as the unmistakable strains of ‘The Star Spangled Banner” filled the room.

Luiz Haza escaped from Cuba, grew up in the United States, and continued his life as a human rights advocate, violin virtuoso, and Grammy Award winning conductor. After performing in many venues around the world, gaining both acclaim and accolades, Haza now serves as Music Director and Conductor for the Coastal Symphony of Georgia.

Beauty did save his world!

Can Beauty Really Save The World?

“Beauty will save the world” is a well-known quote from Dostoevsky’s novel, The Idiot. Furthermore, the “idiot” speaks that particular line. But most readers dismiss it as creative hyperbole, a totally impractical weapon against the ever present evil one encounters.

However, when fellow Russian, Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, could not leave the Soviet Union in 1970 to accept his Nobel Prize for Literature, he used Dostoevsky’s line in an acceptance letter as a spring board for sharing himself with the world beyond the Iron Curtain.

In his introduction, the former prisoner of the infamous Gulag admitted that he had downplayed the importance of that statement for years. Like most of the rest of the world, it seemed unrealistic – perhaps even idiotic. The stark horrors of life and death in the prison camps belied the possibility that beauty was anything more than ornamental.

But when he tried to write about those years and testify to the brutality encountered and the heroism observed, Solzhenitsyn began to reealize that beauty could effect change. How could anyone but a fellow prisoner understand the depravity inherent in forcing harsh government control over individuals without expressive writing? In other words, the presentation of his and others’ experiences must be beautifully written if the reader is to enter into their experience and learn from it.

Beautiful literature can at least begin changing the world.

Another towering figure of the twentieth century, Pope John Paul II, also referenced Dostoevsky’s belief about beauty in his Letter to Young Artists in 1999. First he acknowledges that each person is building his own life with every decision made and action performed. Hopefully all build lives of loving integrity that become works of art. He explains that while each person faces daunting challenges throughout life, the energy and enthusiasm needed to overcome them is found in beauty. In fact, he insists that “beauty will save the world” is a profound insight.

But the focus of the letter eloquently encourages artists to develop their talents for the common good, fully aware their work echoes God’s creativity. It will encourage present and future generations since beauty not only delights, but exhilarates.

Pope John Paul II’s closing sentences themselves inspire his readers:

““From chaos there rises the world of the spirit.” These words of Adam Mickiewicz, written at a time of great hardship for his Polish homeland, prompt my hope for you: may your art help to affirm that true beauty which, as a glimmer of the Spirit of God, will transfigure matter, opening the human soul to the sense of the eternal.”

 

Choose? Or Go Along to Get Along?

I see people every day who long for beauty, but easily settle for what is new, striking

or momentarily fashionable; then wonder at the emptiness inside.

 

 

“The human soul longs for things higher, warmer and purer than those offered by today’s mass living habits; introduced by the revolting invasion of publicity, by TV stupor, and by intolerable music.”

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

Never Lose An Opportunity for Beauty

 

Contrary to current American culture, beauty is not a carefully photo-shopped image of an attractive young woman designed to sell a product or a concept. No, beauty is far more than mere image or presentation. And it certainly exceeds the boundaries of our print and electronic media.

I define beauty as that which delights, inspires, and enriches. Anything less is a shallow imitation or perverse contradiction of the honesty inherent in beauty, whatever form it takes.

For beauty does exist in many forms, such as:
Visual
Aural
Natural
Crafted
Movement
Stillness
Spontaneous
Arranged

We who live at today’s frenetic pace must allow ourselves to notice the beauty we walk in every day. It could be a picture, a musical selection, a memory, a person, an activity, or a location. If we stop to remember, there are thousands of those precious flashbacks that can still enrich our lives today.

When you read this blog, please take a couple of minutes to share a portion of beauty that you’ve encountered. Sharing will improve both of our lives and become a thing of beauty for all of us.

To get the ball rolling, I’ll start.

Because I wanted my four children to be adept at physical activities that could be part of their lives through out adulthood, I signed them up for swimming, tennis, and golf lessons. In the process, I signed myself up for getting them to swim practice before and after classes during the school year and hours of watching from a damp bleacher.

When my oldest was about 13, she developed beautiful strokes in the American crawl, back stroke and breast stroke. If cell phone video cameras had been available then, I would share with you an example of swim laps that resemble ballet. While the rest of the group splashed eagerly back and forth in their lanes, she glided as if she were created for the purpose of creating beauty out of daily swim practices.

She certainly didn’t inherit any athletic talent from either parent. In fact, we are amazed that she belongs to us. The coach did not give her extra instruction. But all who watched were delighted to observe such unpretentious beauty in action.

She still swims. And participates in the Low Country Splash! every spring which is either a 2.4 or 5.0 mile open water swim near Mt. Pleasant, SC.