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How Deep Is Beauty?

“It’s not how good you are, but how good people think you are,” a speaker said
at a conference this morning.

“Image is everything,” said the sneaker ads.

  Such slogans make me think that this is what’s wrong with the world
today-that people pay too much attention to appearances and not enough to more
important, substantive matters. After all, you can’t judge a book by its cover.

But how about a magazine? Here at Kentucky Living we’re devoting more and more
time and attention to making our covers especially appealing. I’m even writing
fewer words in this column these days so it can be dressed up with enticing
artwork, and so that you won’t be put off from reading it because it looks like
it has too many words.

  Is my use of fewer words and more pictures helping you quickly find
the information you need in today’s busy world? Or am I contributing to the
problem of emphasizing surface over substance? I seem to be on the horns of
a dilemma. 

  Actually, the emphasis on appearances is not uniquely modern. After
all, there’s nothing new under the sun. Attention to image is hardly a new idea
in America. Kentuckian Abe Lincoln was born in a log cabin, he did split rails,
and he was honest, especially when it suited his political and policy goals.
But in my reading about Lincoln, he was very aware of the value of the images
of his humble and hard-working beginnings, and he didn’t object to people wanting
to use them to his benefit.

There’s another time-tested saying that may 

cover all these questions: the more things change, 

the more they stay the same.

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