QUALIA LVI: The Beauty of It All! What Happened To The Beauty Of Life?
Exploring QUFD Principles,
from the QUFD website,
By Father Jerome
The other day, it was reported by the media, that Baghdad, Iraq, which had once upon a time (before Saddam Hussein), been considered one of the Most Beautiful Cities upon the Earth, was no longer in contention for such a Title and, instead, was now somewhere on the bottom of such a kind of listing, due to blast barriers, razor-wire barricades, blasted and crumbling infrastructures, and the overall deterioration of the community Life everywhere in and about that ancient City!
It was also recently reported by the media that, nowadays, the Most Secure and Beautiful City (or Cities), were three (3) Swiss cities, Luxembourg and a few others, including San Francisco, California! However, it was duly noted that there WAS one 'problem' with the 'classification' of San Francisco as a 'Beautiful City', and that was the matter of... the homeless, that were to be seen everywhere!
Well, I can sympathize with that 'situation', actually on both sides of the matter, but I won't do so here, in that these webpages are already replete with extensive discussions regarding the homeless and homelessness. So I intend to keep my remarks focused on the 'Beauty' side of the 'fence' and Reality!
But, from that, or this, 'side of the fence', the homeless being everywhere in San Francisco (and. I might add, elsewhere in the San Francisco Bay Area!), does not 'Paint a Pretty Picture'! I, myself, cannot go out my door, where I live, without running into a homeless person within a few short minutes!
And I am not condemning that person, or persons, for all of the homeless DO NEED to find their 'integration' and acceptance within Society somehow, but, in our current Society, it is not happening, at least not readily, under the policies and 'mechanisms' currently in-place to handle such 'tragedies' as the homeless!
Without 'going on' here any further, on behalf of the homeless, let me return to the perspective of the 'Beauty' of ANY town, city or region ANYWHERE! And, with regard to that which 'defaces' and 'desecrates' the 'Beauty', of San Francisco or any other city, one does certainly NOT wish to come out one's door, and to walk down a street, or through a mall, park, or City-downtown anywhere, and be 'accosted' by the homeless, and their 'panhandling' (for the ones that do practice such a 'trade'!)
"Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder!", spoke someone somewhere once upon a time! And I remember the times, years back, when I myself could walk the streets of San Francisco, and the parks, and the neighborhoods, rejoicing and enjoying the 'culture' and individuality of each of the differing areas of that Great City that is San Francisco! I suppose it can yet be done, albeit infused with the views of those homeless 'everywhere'! But somehow, walking the Marina Green, or Pier 39, or even Golden Gate Park, is probably not the same, with the constancy of the homeless persisting.
But, then, maybe they WERE there, in those olden days, but just not seen so readily! In the 60's-70's, San Francisco had the Hippies, who most certainly included the homeless sub-culture, but in the colorful displays and activities of the Hippie-era, somehow the destitution of any homeless sub-culture was just overlooked! In fact, I remember trying to drive my car through Haight-Ashbury on a weekend, and not getting anywhere very fast at all, as colorful posters, newspapers and psychodelia, were thrust into my car windows every few minutes, in the form of 'panhandling' that was being practiced in those days, which was not at all as offensive as it is today!
Ah! "I Left My Heart In San Francisco!", "I'm Going To San Francisco, With A Flower In My Hair!", "Sausalito!", "Stanyan Street", and all of the wonderful and familiar songs and tunes, of San Francisco 'gone-by'! Such things are included, in the 'Beauty' that is San Francisco! The Palace of Fine Arts, the Sausalito waterfront, the Embarcadero, Fort Point, Twin-Peaks at midnite, Haight-Ashbury, Union Square, the View from the Carnelian Room, and certainly the View from the Sausalito Ferry, on it's last Return-to-San Francisco, in the dark of a February evening, as it passes Alcatraz Island and, all of a sudden, breaks out of the fog-bank, to reveal the Wonderous Sight that is San Francisco All-Lit-Up-At-Night, as has been aptly described in those columns-of-yore, of the San Francisco Chronicle, by Herb Caen... as "Baghdad-By-The-Bay"! But, actually Being There, was definitely nice too! Oh, Yes! And if you might find, an old, vintage LP album, showing the 'lineup-of-patrons',
standing there and waiting to get in, under that neon-sign that simply said, "the hungry i", for that Wonderful Performance of "Glenn Yarbrough, Live at the hungry i!"... Yes! The forth couple, standing there in line, waiting to get in, as seen on the Cover of that LP Album, is myself and my ex-wife! And even though a nice bottle of my favorite wine, a vintage French White Bordeaux, served in the first-class restaurant on the first-floor of my apartment building, now costs $900 for that one bottle, I very well remember paying only $35 for the exact same wine, at the San Francisco Playboy Club on Montgomery St., as my wife and I enjoyed the Comedy of Lenny Bruce!
And the 'Beauty' of a City is not only its enclaves and enterprises, but also its environs! In the media Report about the former 'Beauty' of Baghdad, one of Baghdad's long-time residents remembers, and speaks of, a time 'gone-by', when the East Banks of the Tigris River were abundant in parks and vegetation, and the citizens of Baghdad could enjoy a most enjoyable day-with-family, immersed in that 'Beauty', that was Baghdad THEN!
The same applies to San Francisco! The entire San Francisco Bay Area was, once upon a time, a 'Beautiful' and Wondrous Place, like Baghdad was, with Hiking Trails, Parks and such to be enjoyed by one and all. But today, such 'Wonders' are impugned with the possibility of being killed on that Hiking Trail, or being abducted in one's own neighborhood, or shot on one's doorstep, or terrorized in any other way.
Actually, that 'Reality' applies not only to our cities, but to the World as well! Once upon at time, I could freely travel (as an American citizen!) the countryside's of India, or the Philippines, or Japan, or probably anywhere else in the world, such as Africa, enjoying the local cultures, cuisines, and camaraderie of the natives, without worrying about being killed, but instead Welcomed with open arms! No longer! Most anywhere in the world, from one's own home to anywhere else, is now 'grist' for murder and mayhem!
Something MUST be Done, because this World and it's Inhabitants, are 'out-of-kilter'! BRING BACK BEAUTY, the 'Beauty' of LIFE!