Far from making him appear “sissy,” an appreciation of beauty is essential to channeling a man’s natural inclinations into supporting vital social goals and making him a better man, says Jared Silvey:
This stronger inclination to fighting is not, in itself, automatically directed to either good or evil. It has the potential to go either way. It can be directed to good, as in the case of fighting to defend one’s country against unjust aggression, or to evil, as in the cases of murder, rape, and other acts of unjust violence.
Beauty here enters the picture by helping to direct this male inclination to aggression and fighting to a worthy end. This is because real beauty is always found wherever there is truth and goodness, and it strengthens the attraction these other two values exert on the human person. It moves a man to defend whatever is good and true. The beautiful maiden is a potent spell which carries the knight into the field of battle. It can be said that there is no one the enemy should fear more than a man who enters into battle with his lady in his heart. Beauty makes men fighters because it first makes them lovers.
Silvey observes that even the caveman found time to make cave paintings, whereas “today’s tech-savvy, fast-food fed, materialistic West places more emphasis on money, things, efficiency, and instant gratification.” Modern consumerism transforms everything into a commodity, even sex. To salvage the humanity within us, we need to slow down, stop envying what we’re told we’re supposed to have, and rediscover the joy of simple, direct living.
Jon Barrett, the hero of my novella Aztec Midnight, feels a mystical connection to the beauty of ancient weapons when he enters the vault at the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia in Cuernavaca:
I stepped into a long, darkened room full of rows of tables. The only illumination came from ultraviolet lamps. It took a few moments for my eyes to adjust to the relic-friendly lighting. I slowly recognized piles of Aztec, Mayan, Toltec, and Spanish colonial artifacts on each table. As I gazed at the long rows of deadly and finely crafted weapons from four heroic cultures, my heart beat just a bit faster than normal. It felt like Christmas morning.
I think Jon Barrett would agree with Dostoevsky’s observation that “Beauty will save the world.” Appreciating beauty, like striving for a sound mind in a healthy body, is a vital part of being a whole man.