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Andrew Nordmeyer page 1

Andrew Nordmeyer

Dr. Cassel

October 3, 2017

For Mara

Beautiful World

My my my its a beautiful world. I like swimming in the sea. I like to go out beyond the

white breakers where a man can still be free (or a woman if you are one); I like swimming in the

sea. The song Beautiful World written and composed by Colin Hay is a song that argues

there is always beauty in the world even amongst the ugliness. Suicide rates have never been

higher, averaging forty-five thousand reported suicides every year and for every actual suicide

there are twenty-five attempts. Suicide is the tenth-leading cause of death in the United States

and it costs our country fifty-one billion dollars annually (AFSP). All of these numbers seem

horrific but somehow, they still mask the unspeakable blow of losing a loved one to suicide. In

the song "Beautiful World", Colin Hay urges us to look past the evils in our lives to see the ever-

present beauty in the world. He uses pathos effectively, playing on our emotions as he

empathizes with our own struggles in life before finally admitting "and still this emptiness

persists, perhaps this is as good as it gets". He utilizes logos to demonstrate that despite this

feeling of futility, all of the beautiful things around us still exist; we just can't see them in the

face of our own turmoil. Finally, he employs ethos to demand from the listener cooperation

and goodwill towards all mankind.


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Colin Hay wrote the song Beautiful World in 2001 shortly after the terrorist attacks at

the World Trade Center in New York City. At the time, Colin had recently moved to America

and had just quit drinking as he suffered from years of alcohol abuse. Because of this

dependency, Colin watched members of his band Men at Work cut him out of their lives; he

was in a very dark place. The song works on a personal, or micro level for him and for anyone

who listens to it. As the song lists the simple pleasures in life, including but not limited to

swimming in the sea, drinking Irish tea, and sleeping with a girl, Colin reminds us of the simple

beauty in life that is always there hiding behind the darkness. Colin then lists a few of these

darknesses, including anger, automatic guns, death in large numbers, and no respect for

women or our little ones. Everyone on earth can unfortunately empathize with these and

countless other evils.

Anyone listening to this song can empathize with the struggles listed and the feelings of

emptiness, loneliness, and futility; the song therefore also works on a macro level. The song

encompasses the horrors of September 11th but still today over sixteen years later we face

atrocities such as natural disasters, school shootings, and most recently the atrocities that

continue to rock Las Vegas. Every day seems to begin another saga of terror in the form of

violence, discrimination, exploitation, or abuse. As long as mankind inhabits this planet there

will unfortunately be atrocities and it is our responsibility as mankind to live through them and

overcome. The suicide statistics paint too clear of a picture: far too many people feel like they

have no other option but to leave this life behind. In Beautiful World, Colin tries to

empathize with these struggles even while he contends with his own.
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At one point in the song, Colin sings I tried talking to Jesus but he just put me on hold.

He said hed been swamped by calls this week and he could not shake his cold. This is an

example of Colin extrapolating his song to try to speak to as many people as possible. Colin

himself did not believe in any sort of deity, but he explained this specific line in an interview.

That's challenging when you don't really believe in God, which I don't. But when I was

sitting out in the backyard having just given up the drink, trying to sit and meditate in

some way, shape, or fashion, I became aware of my place in the universe, if you like.

You don't tap into it, and it's not even really that you do anything. It's a state of being,

which is not that you know anything. You just feel a sense that you're part of some kind

of universal consciousness whatever you want to call it. There's a benevolence to the

universe which I hadn't felt before.

Even though Colin doesnt believe in God himself, he understands a connectedness

between people and the universe and attempts to speak to that in the song. He uses pathos to

call upon our emotions to do the right thing. He calls upon the most fundamental aspects of

our human spirit to bond together and overcome our differences. He continues utilizing pathos

in the next line of the song, exclaiming and still this emptiness persists; perhaps this is as good

as it gets. He empathizes with the feelings of emptiness, loneliness, and futility that each of us

feels and uses logos to bring us out of this negative energy.

He counters this negative idea of being as good as it gets by continuing the song.

When youve given up the drink and those nasty cigarettes. And you leave the party early, at

least with no regrets. I watch the sun as it comes up and I watch it as it sets. Yes this is as good
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as it gets. Here he is utilizing logos to call upon the listener to look past their own emotions

and to see logical truths. He argues that the life you are living is as good as it gets; its the only

life youre given. However, it is the way you define your life that determines the quality of that

life. If you determine your life as a negative, focusing on the negative things that have

happened to you, then youll have a pessimistic outlook on your life. If, however, you instead

focus on the positives in your life, you will find it is defined by goodness rather than badness.

Therefore, to live a good life, you must logically seek out the goodness that exists within it.

Beautiful World was featured in an episode of the television program Scrubs. The

video does a fantastic job of taking one specific scenario, doctors struggling in a hospital

environment, and applies the song to their struggles. A doctors life work involves dealing with

the worst that humanity has to offer. Every day is an endless parade of the infirm and the

deranged; every day a battle with death and any hopes of victory are still just a temporary fix.

The video paints a picture of many different people all wrapped up in the same struggle: a man

with no insurance who needs a surgery if he hopes to survive. The video shows how many

people from different walks of life all come together to try to solve this problem, from the

patients primary doctor struggling to find a solution and the surgeon willing to risk operating,

to the nurses and hospital administration who are willing to bend the rules and risk their own

careers, and of course the family of the patient who live in the constant fear of being lost with

no hope in sight. The characters in the video are full of stress and anxiety but they come

together and work as a cohesive unit to achieve their goal and improve the quality of life for

everyone involved; not only the patient who needed the surgery but for everyone involved who
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worked hard to accomplish their goal. This is a perfect example of the ethos argument for

looking past the ugliness in the world and seeing the beauty underneath.

John Stuart Mill is a philosopher who championed the philosophical ideal of

utilitarianism. Utilitarianism states that an action is ethical insofar as it promotes happiness,

and that the greatest happiness of the greatest number should be the first and foremost

concern (MacKinnon). Put simplistically, utilitarianism examines any action based upon four

points: does the action promote the greatest amount of happiness, and reduce unhappiness,

for the greatest amount of people, and for as long as possible. In the video, the characters

struggled to save a mans life even though it meant bending or breaking the established rules

and putting their own careers in jeopardy. This is a clear example of utilitarianism because the

end result improved the quality of life for everyone involved while greatly reducing

unhappiness.

Another philosopher, Peter Singer, furthered utilitarianism by emphasizing the

importance not only of increasing happiness but mostly of decreasing unhappiness, which he

called pain (Soccio). When scrutinized through this lens, utilitarianism makes the case even

more strongly for the characters in the video to break the rules in order to reduce pain and

suffering. As very few people could empathize with the specific struggles of working in a

hospital and manipulating the system to save a mans life, Beautiful World helps the audience

to relate. The viewers watch the doctors struggle to succeed and they listen to the evils in the

song. They listen to the simple message of hope and beauty in the song as the patient survives

the surgery and they can empathize with struggles at their own work and in their own lives.
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The song calls its audience to try to be better and to keep going even when times get tough;

especially when times get tough. Beautiful World uses this video to argue that humans have

an ethical responsibility to be good and to always search for the positive in a negative situation.

Beautiful World is an honest song. It does not sugarcoat the difficulties of life, nor

does it glorify lifes triumphs. Life rarely works out as planned and can quickly feel like its

spinning out of control. Every year fourteen million people will experience a depressive

disorder and too many people feel trapped or lost (NAMI). Beautiful World uses pathos to

identify the horrors in life but to provide empathy and hope for a better future. It utilizes logos

by laying a framework for that brighter tomorrow: live your life in pursuit of the beauty, not in

fear of the ugly. Beautiful World employs ethos in the video to demonstrate the physical and

moral benefits of staying positive and of fighting on even when the path forward is shrouded in

uncertainty.

Beautiful World compels its audience to find the small beauties in life and hold them

close whenever you need them the most. When the world seems to crumble beneath you, take

a deep breath and remember a beautiful sunrise or the first snowfall of the year (so long as you

dont have to drive anywhere). Remember the vacation you took last year or your childs first

steps and fight through the tough times in order to live your life for the good times. All those

beautiful parts of your life are still there, it is only your present situation that has you feeling

overwhelmed and eventually this too will pass. Also, do not limit your search for beauty to your

own world but try every day to make someones life, anyones life, a little bit brighter; everyone

wages war with hidden demons and you never know when your small act of kindness can make
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the difference between life and death. Beautiful World is such a simple song about hope and

about life, perhaps to remind its listeners that there is true beauty in the simple things. My my

my its a beautiful world. I like sleeping with Marie. She is one sexy girl full of mystery. She

says she doesnt love me, but she likes my company. For now, thats good enough for me.
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Work Cited

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. AFSP, 11 Oct. 2017, afsp.org/.

MacKinnon, Barbara, and Andrew Fiala. Ethics: Theory and Contemporary Issues. Cenegage,

2018.

NAMI. NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-

By-the-Numbers.

Soccio, Douglas J. Archetypes of Wisdom: An Introduction to Philosophy. Cengage Learning,

2016.