Protests of Beauty

By Tom Rowley, A Rocha USA Executive Director

Sixties-era protest singer Phil Ochs once said, “In such ugly times, the only true protest is beauty.” Whether you agree with his politics or not, the idea has merit and seems to be catching. Protests of beauty are popping up.

From Smallest Seed by A Rocha’s Nashville friends is a prime example, using music to open both heart and mind to the goodness of creation in ways that no lecture or admonition ever could. Give it a listen.

Another example grabbed my attention a couple of days ago as the dog and I listened to the radio on our way to the abandoned golf course where I walk and throw sticks and she runs and chases them.

A few years ago an Oakland man was desperate for help with a city-owned strip of land next to his house. Too small for a park and thus apparently for the city to upkeep, the land had become a dumping ground for everything from beer cans to mattresses and a place of criminal activity. He tried everything. Nothing worked.

And then he tried a hardware-store-bought, two-foot-tall statue of Buddha. Not that he’s Buddhist or even religious As he put it, “I’d have stuck Christ up there if he’d have kept the mattresses off.”


The dumping slowed. The trash disappeared. And flowers, oranges and gifts for the Buddha began to appear. Vietnamese immigrants had adopted it and per their custom began to care for the property where he sat. Today the little strip is a shrine, with plants and flowers, and a community gathering spot to boot.

Another protest of beauty. Listen to the full story here.

We can’t all write songs or even sing. And we certainly don’t have to be Buddhists or desperate to adopt a little piece of God’s creation. But we can all do our bit for God’s creation…just like He told us to.

Let the protests begin.

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