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The irony of identifying criticism

Posted by Ammon on August 31, 2015

I have recently wondered what it is about human nature that makes us want to point out the faults and mess ups of others – especially those who others regard with respect.  It’s almost as if there is an assumption that anybody who has achieved some level of respectis expected to be perfect.  News flash: Nobody is perfect!  The reason these people have respect is because in some area, they have overcome destructive tendencies and have accomplished something which people find impressive, not because they don’t have anything which could be “worthy” of disrespect.  This line of thought was inspired by two groups of people:

  1. Self-proclaimed skeptic atheists who seem to think it important to “discredit” public figures who have acquired some level of respect.
  2. Religious people who disbelieve something I believe, and think that even though we agree on what I believe is most important, seem to think that the differences in what we believe, which I see mostly as semantically different interpretation of religious text, are of primary importance.

As I sat reviewing in my mind a recent encounter with a couple of men which could be included in the second group, and then this morning as I recently briefly glanced at an article where they criticize Gandhi as a “racist” and Mother Teresa as a “religious zealot”, or the first group – the irony of my sitting in judgement on them struck me.  When I criticize them, even if I keep the criticism within my own mind and don’t share it with other people (and it is rarely kept within my own mind), how am I any different?  This also lead me to think about how often I find fault, rather than choose to find something I can affirm and edify in others.  I felt convicted.  This is something I want to change in myself.

So what is it about criticising those we disagree with that seems so irresistible?  I am not personally acquainted with anybody that never criticises other people, but I am with a few who seem to be gaining success at overcoming this vice.  They tend to be those for whom I have the most respect and I tend to lose respect for those that seem to be skeptical and critical of almost everything.  How many people’s respect have I lost because of my habit of criticism?

Are you also guilty of occasionally succumbing to the habit of criticism?

Do you know somebody who isn’t?

If so, do you find them more, or less influential for good than those who regularly criticize others?

If not, do you feel it is a problem in our society?

To the few who actually read my blog, I’d love to see your answer in the comments below.


One Response to “The irony of identifying criticism”

  1. Jarom said

    There is a difference between criticizing a person and disagreeing with an idea or giving a critique of a point of view, however most people don’t have the capacity to separate the two when in an online discussion. On the other side, if you are able to separate your opinion of a person’s value or character from your opinion of the viewpoints they are expressing, and the person is able to capture that difference, then you are probably doing very well. However, some people are unable to see the difference, and take any disagreement as a personal attack on their character.


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