Who defines beauty?

I have this very distinct memory of playing in the backyard at my parents’ house. White flowers with soft petals had grown taller than the neatly cut grass in the yard. Each one seemed like a perfect puff ball. And with just a gentle wind from my lips, the petals would dance across the yard. One puff would be tiny fairies who would land and hide among the leaves. Another became snowflakes that melted down to the earth. Others were wishes that stretched far and wide. I’m not sure how long I spent blowing these petals across the lawn before my mother came outside. Rather than seeing the magical world I did, she questioned (with a bit of anger in her voice) why I was spreading weeds across her lawn.

What I thought were flowers turned out to be weeds, pests, and a blight on the manicured lawn.

Last weekend I was again in a field of flowers. And again, they were dandelions. This time they were still yellow, like drops of sunshine randomly scattered. They didn’t have the same magic as those white puffs from years ago, but they still were quite beautiful. Why were these plants weeds when roses are beloved flowers, when daisies are a sign of friendship, or lilies share grief with another person? Who gets to decide these things?

I haven’t taken a biology course in many years (more years than a lady would put in print). I don’t know the botany reasons that a dandelion is labeled as a “weed.” I’m sure there are good and logical reasons for that decision. All I know is that looking out at that field, and back through my pictures today, is that they are “beautiful.”

When I arrived home this evening, I drove past a new campsite of people living outside. With tents, tarps, bikes, and all of their earthly possessions, they were setting up a temporary home alongside a cement wall. They will probably be there a few days, or maybe a week. Then others will join them and the tent city will grow to a point that people in the neighborhood will complain to the police. Eviction notices will be put up and these human beings will move on to another field, off-ramp, or alleyway. And those living inside of doors and walls, with roofs over their heads will feel safe from a danger to the neighborhood.

What would happen if we (and I mean we, as in me too) saw these “dangers” as “humans”? If we looked upon them with grace instead of fear? If we looked for their beauty rather than their flaws?

I know, I know. It’s much more complicated that a simple blog can resolve. Everything wrong in the world is more complicated than one blog, one person can fix. And everything wrong in the world is because not enough people even tried.

So that is what I ask of you tonight, dear reader. Try. Be brave. Find beauty in the weeds outside. In the humans living beyond your walls.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Ghandi

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