I want to be someone who sees the good, the silver lining, the glass half full. I don’t want to burrow into cynicism, negativity, and, eventually, contempt about my world and its people. But at the same time, I don’t want to be one who is easily fooled and misled, duped by false appeals to emotion, by propaganda, by happy masks that hide ugly realities.
I want to see the truth and I want to see the good. In such a broken world, is it possible to have both? Or am I just trying to have my cake and eat it too? When motives might be mixed or Hollywood romanticizes a true story, can I still embrace the beauty (even the partial beauty) of the message? Should I? Or would it be willful ignorance to welcome that good when there’s even a chance of a hidden agenda?
Sometimes, the appearance of good is used to hide what is truly bad, whether that is a defective product hiding behind pretty lies, or slave labor hiding behind cheap products. Then, “embracing the good” is really just looking the other way. Then, the issue is black and white. Then, there is no good to be found nor beauty to be mined, only truth to be exposed.
Sometimes. But it’s those not-so-black-and-white cases that I want to look at.
It’s easy — almost automatic — to be critical, to point the finger at supposed consumerism, manipulation, or pandering. And yes, chances are, the bigger the movie or project is, the more likely it is that some of those involved are just in it for the money. But does that possibility render any good message, any touch of beauty, null and void? I say no!
Our motives aren’t completely pure and true, yet God still uses us. Who are we to impose harsher standards on others than God does on us? And yet, it’s so easy to do because we can see our hearts but we can’t see the hearts of others. We excuse and justify ourselves, but question others’ motives. When we don’t know the people behind the art or the project or the story, it’s even easier to let the cynical words fly.
We aren’t perfect people with perfect hearts and minds who create perfect art. No one is. So why are our standards so impossibly high? Why do we keep setting ourselves up for disappointment and colder hearts?
You may have already seen this video of Dove’s social experiment exploring “how women view their own beauty in contrast to what others see.“ If you haven’t, I encourage you to watch it. I found its message inspiring, thought-provoking and full of truth. Not the be-all of truth, not the perfect, complete picture of what true beauty is, but still worth celebrating for what it is: a poignant step in the right direction.
Since I watched it, I’ve read several critical comments pointing out perceived flaws in the message, questioning the project’s authenticity, or remaining skeptical of its motives. These responses started the train of thought that led to this blog.
Art might just show us bits and pieces, the tip of the iceberg, the first step. It might not reach its fullest, perfect potential. But we aren’t perfect either, so why not recognize, celebrate, and learn from the nuggets and handfuls of truth and beauty and goodness rather than cast them aside for not being bigger and brighter?