Of late, it seems, there have been a spate of environmental atrocities beyond what even the most jaded among us can bear to witness.

Those of us who still somehow have access to parts of our soul, are raw from the destruction at Ammos tou Kambouri, sickened by the church intending to build monstrosities on top of a Geroskipou archaeological site, and reeling from what has been done at the Stefani riverbed in Tala under the guise of fire prevention.

But the inexorable march of the profit-driven Big Ugly is not the only issue here.

It seems that, somehow, this land has become possessed of a spirit to commit as many senseless acts of micro-uglification as possible, prompting one to wonder what the end game will be.

The phenomenon doesn’t start or stop at the obvious brazen and much moaned about acts of destruction of places some of us considered beautiful. It doesn’t stop at littering, at the dumping of fridges and mattresses in forests, nor at the billions of cigarette butts tossed on the beach. No, the lack of sensibility, about what is beautiful, seems to have become a deep-seated pathological condition of our nation’s psyche. A type of creeping amnesia.

Take any of our cities. Are they beautiful? Is the modernised version of Eleftheria Square (with benches derisively referred to by locals as “the suppositories”) beautiful? Are the empty Limassol towers with their tacky brand signs visually blaring the names of construction companies (reminiscent of stickers on supermarket fruit) beautiful?

How about the persistent issue of deceased cats and dogs left unattended on our streets, subjecting passersby to stomach-turning sights until natural decomposition takes its course? The list of senseless acts of uglification goes on and on.

We’ve grown up on the adage “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” but this not being proven to be borne out by science. Biometric data, in fact, is increasingly supporting the notion that although we may think beauty is relative, our bodies certainly think otherwise.

Ask any child under a certain age if they would rather play by a natural lush riverbed teeming with life, or on a manicured lawn. Beauty is not in “the eye of the beholder” for the simple reason that our DNA is all the same, and our DNA is human, that is, we are made of the same stuff as nature.

The reality of the matter is that certain kinds of spaces literally affect our brain and body chemistry, either for better or for worse.

The fact that humans are biophilic (drawn to what is ‘organic’, in essence, alive like us) is now scientifically established beyond a doubt (the fact that we needed research to prove this to ourselves is tragic and a case in point).

Patients in hospitals with a view of trees (or a window at the least) recover faster than those staring at a blank wall, no matter how trendy or efficient that wall may be.

Blood pressure goes down when we are walking through a forest and asthmatics suffer less when breathing fresh air. Beauty is more than just an arrangement of shapes, sizes and colours, and the concept that beauty is perceived solely though the sense of sight is a dangerously reductionist habit or ideology.

A sunset is beautiful. A screen is not. A turquoise pristine sea is beautiful. A cruise ship is not. Screens and cruise ships may be ‘cool’. They may be trendy. They may excite some of us through their conditioned association with luxury or entertainment. But beautiful they are not. And our bodies know this.

We are uglifying this country far too much, far too quickly and far too vastly at all manner of scales, from tiny to huge.

Real beauty is held within the manifested intentionality of a space–and a space designed simply to make money will always fail to truly capture beauty.

While functionality, finances and efficiency have their place, the pendulum on this island has swung much too far in this direction.

At the very least, we need to put some concerted effort into waking up and safeguarding public places of organically created beauty in or near out cities (be those cultural or ecological), from the seeping uglification.

Children’s spaces, at the very least – schools and playgrounds, and any remaining real nature need to urgently be prioritised. Not everything needs to “curated” and sterile is not beautiful.

Otherwise, we may find that a mental disease inducing environment will soon become our norm and the panoptic for young and old alike (if this hasn’t in fact already happened).

As so many philosophers have told us, humans are inherently foolish. Where will we go to escape our follies when all the wild places have been boxed up?