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14.01.2021 Opinion

Finding Beauty in Chaos – Value or Values?

By Yaw Sompa
Finding Beauty in Chaos – Value or Values?
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How often it is said, there are two chief prizes in life; beauty and truth, yet beauty has no form – of some consoling, others disturbing, maybe even sacred, or sometimes just plain profane. Beauty can be exhilarating, appealing, inspiring, or even chilling but never indifferent and if there was ever a person who was indifferent to beauty, then it is surely because they do not perceive it to be so. I write about finding beauty through chaos; beauty for the quest of meaning, recognition, truth, and respect.

Ordinarily, beauty is a function of symmetry, order, and happiness. It is however hardly a thing in life for beauty to be linear. The artistic brush may be broad or the strokes seemingly uncoordinated but in the end, one can only pay attention. The poets may tell us a thing of beauty as a joy forever, its loveliness increasing and never passing into nothingness but hardly are we minded of the nothingness from which all such beauty emerged. The poets may not tell us of the tales of heaven through the very pits of hell.

We have often been told, in Africa communication is done by beating drums at the market square, calm therefore pisses and diplomacy is a pure joke. Brute force wins, we seem to suggest. Civility is over-rated, drama is preferred, bite if you must: just be heard, for, after all, we all want to be heard and paid attention to - we all crave to be construed as beautiful. Even in art, we hardly find it artistically worthy unless it slights or borders on outrage, just maybe it’s schadenfreude: pure bliss only when another is unfortunate.

In pursuit of value and recognition, we seem to suggest, be anything. Even do anything. But what happened to values? Values of truth and respect. Of civility, decorum, and finesse. Values may matter but is it valued at the market square? Is it not about selling and being sold? Violence seems to triumph! Are values such as dignity and honourability not rhetoric of language? Should values have a place at the market square? Are we not at the behest and mercy of strong men, condemned to their every whim?

Talking about market squares, let’s reflect on Agoras: The assembly of people in ancient Greek to practice what in its iterative form is modern democracy. The agora is said to be of two types – archaic and iconic. The agora of the city of Elis (a city well known for its horse breeding and the Olympic Games) were said to be archaic because they were not coordinated; the general impression thus of disorder. Iconoclasm for even such things as market squares was a function of symmetry, yet Elis was beautiful for the games.

Games. Many things may form games but does leadership and politicks? Politika – “the science of good sense, applied to public affairs, and, as those are forever changing, what is wisdom to-day would be folly and perhaps, ruin to-morrow. Politicks is not a science so properly as a business. It cannot have fixed principles, from - which a wise man would never swerve, unless the inconstancy of men’s view of interest and capriciousness of the tempers could be fixed.” Fisher Ames (1758-1808)

When I was 14 years old, I was impressed with form and language. Poetry was home and solace for me but many people I knew found it as much of a joke as of calm and diplomacy; pussyfooting and saying nothing – it lacked the fluidity of prose. The goal, for them, was to be unguarded without a metrical structure, just beauty in ordinary language, freely speaking: say what you want in defense of your interest and be brute with tempers even an unbridled inconstancy as of the love affair of a teenager.

And yet in defining of mastery and leadership is honourability and not adolescence; entitled to honour and respect. Entitled or less strongly put, admirable for its ethical or moral principles. Hoochie Coochie Fire Dance is no dance for an honourable not only because it is less edifying in matters of the agora but it does serve to deprave public taste. What will I therefore tell a child of 14 who wants to understand honour? Will he find it in symmetry and order or in hoochie coohie? Is it in value or values?

Leadership is consensus but consensus assumes a baseline; rationality. The process is designed to uphold the will of the wise or better put the privileged in power but the true north should always tender towards harnessing beauty from diversity. Each diverse opinion, like the chaos of an artist’s broad stroke, a mural of beauty curated from broadly stroked rational ideas. The question however is, what if we can’t count on rationality? What if we are incapable of wisdom and are only slaves to our emotions and interests?

To conclude on rationality as the solution is to suggest that, grabbing of ballot boxes, kicking of same and running away with validly casted votes did not have bearings on such a true north except that, as we like to say, ‘the way some people think, it go over you’. And indeed, the drama sometimes can be overbearing but its wisdom lasting: Even chaos can teach us about the beauty of order. The lessons of how language and not violence can afford us beauty even in chaos. We must thus learn to communicate and be tolerant.

Communication is, however, a bit more than language and words; it is hearts reaching out to others in clear memorable ways. An exchange at the core, first of values and then subsequently of value. Words only become the medium to carry the emotions of values and value perceived. To find such rhythm in emotions and value, however, one must first find honesty, truth, and goodwill. Consensus is only possible when the parties are influence able; open to influence and capable of influencing – not with violence.

Violence, however, will teach us the chaos for chaos sake; the ugliness of such things as war that must be reconstructed into beauty by artists who must find beauty in all. We may elect to let party interests and tempers lead but that end is knowable: inconstancy of an adolescent love and not the depth necessary for national affairs. I speak concerning all things leadership. I speak concerning rebuilding, collaboration, and finding strength together, rather than been destroyed by such emptiness as party and ethnic colours.

My name is Yaw Sompa. I represent AfricaLearn and aspire that the African may find fun in brilliance. That like the creator, we may create a new Africa; beautifully adopted from our chaos, fully anchored in truth. That we may find such things as order natural to us. That if we are ever inclined to let our rationality slide, our intuitive inclination may differ to the beauty of communication in goodwill rather than our erupting emotions, not callously enjoying each other’s misfortune and risking being represented as a zoo by children with crayons.

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