Why so emotional?

Perhaps you’ve seen this video of an audition for Britain’s Got Talent. It likely brought a tear to your eye.  It brought many to mine, and I’ve rarely been accused of emotionality.

[click here to view]

Assuming I’m not alone, perhaps this is an opportunity to discover something important about ourselves.  So let’s use the test of whys to dig toward the root of this.

Why are we moved by Susan’s performance?  My answer:  Human excellence inspires; and excellence is present here in an unlikely person.

Why does human excellence inspire?  We have an internal compass which points to perfection.  Perhaps this is a matter of belief, but see Plato for an endorsement.  When someone achieves excellence, it resonates with our true north.

Why is Susan unlikely?  Because we favor and invest in and direct attention to people who look like the blonde judge (Amanda Holden), not like Susan.  If a Holden lookalike had been on stage instead, we would have said “well done, as expected” (no tears).

Why do we favor the physically beautiful, to the detriment of others?  Because our hierarchy of values is broken.  Beauty is good, and we have an innate ability to recognize it.  But higher forms of beauty have been subjugated by the lesser.  How it got to be broken is a separate discussion.

Why the emotional response?  There are two motivators: 1) joy in beauty, and 2) remorse for our misaligned values.  The surprise of excellence in the person of Susan exposes our brokenness.  We are reminded of higher forms of beauty, our relegation of those to lower positions , and the harm yielded by that misalignment (we imagine Susan’s pain at the hands of our collective prejudice).  For a moment, we respond in love to Susan and hope for healing.

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3 Responses to “Why so emotional?”


  1. 1 Lisa -- April 16, 2009 at 7:35 am

    That was so well said Craig. This woman brought a smile to my remorseful self all day yesterday. I knew why but you said it so beautifully.

  2. 2 Esteban April 16, 2009 at 9:31 am

    Wow. Just Wow. Hadn’t seen that. I hate shows of this kind, never watch them (my wife does, tho), but what an inspirational moment. Thanks.

  3. 3 firingsquid April 29, 2009 at 6:18 am

    Surely she would have auditioned before she came on stage, so the producers would have known she’d blow their socks off – and would have been ready to emphasize the moment. But I agree, she’s a wonderful singer, and she’ll go far. Music, after all, is for the ears.


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