Beauty in Nature and the Man-made

A man shows me a picture of a waterfall and says, “Look at the beauty of nature!” I say, “Yes, it is beautiful. But what is also beautiful is the man-made car which the photographer drove on the beautiful man-made road to the spot where he, in his beautiful man-made clothes, could take a picture with his beautiful man-made camera, then post it on a man-made computer so that we could see it on our man-made computers.”

Another man shows me a painting of a mountain and a lake and says, “Look at the beauty of nature.” To that I respond, “The painting itself is one hundred percent man-made, from the canvas to the brushes to the paint, and from the thought in the artist who chose his subject, and also chose what and how he would highlight the things in his painting. Yes, the man-made can be just as, if not more, beautiful than nature.”

Then another man says, with the beauty of skyscrapers soaring behind him, “I’m getting away from all this concrete and steel. I’m going out in raw nature. There’s a beautiful place just a hundred miles away from here.” I ask, “How are you getting there?” He says, “I’m driving my car on the expressway—that’s the fastest way to get there.” I ask, “What makes your speed possible, nature, or the man-made? Why not dispense with the man-made, and just walk?” He resentfully almost shouts, “Oh, you just don’t understand!” I reply, “Not true. I understand better than you ever will.”

Man, in his work, creates beauty, too; from the long even rows of crops in farmland, to the white villa high on a hill; from the smooth, open tarmac of an airport, to the bright single flower standing in a beautifully rounded pot on your windowsill.

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