No. 1021



The English poet and critic Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) once said that a critic is “a certain race of men that either imagine it their duty, or make it their amusement, to hinder the reception of every work of learning or genius.” While none of us like to be criticized, it happens to the vast majority of people at some time or another.
Now this question please: Do you have people in your life who criticize you on a regular and ongoing basis? If you do, I have some thoughts to share with you today that could be very helpful in responding or dealing with criticism. In writing this column I am pleased to say that 95 percent of my responses (either letter, card, e-mail, or phone call) are very positive, with very minor criticism. In fact, some of my readers share things with me that bring tears to my eyes.
However, from time to time I get correspondence from someone I have rubbed the wrong way or taken a view opposite from his or her own. As a Christian I am sure I am considered fair game for some people who are non-believers. The first thing I try to do is determine if the criticism is valid. If it is and I have made a mistake, I apologize, and then take steps to correct my mistake as best I can. In many cases I have responded to readers in a kind, sincere way, where I have given my reasons for the position I have taken, and we have become friends. That is the outcome I always desire. We should also realize that not everyone is going to like us.
My whole life is based on the simple concept of respect, as I respect the rights, views and opinions of others. I have a good friend here in my community who is totally on the opposite side of my position concerning the separation of church and state. One thing we both agree on is that it is a sign of maturity when we can disagree about something and remain friends. There is one central position I take involving any criticism I may receive, and that is I always try to learn something and not make the same mistake over and over again.
Another important aspect in dealing with criticism, whether valid or not, is to forgive the other person. I tell you, the world would be a much better place if we could always do that. Most of the confrontations that take place, that often lead to violence, are when a person is not willing to forgive a person who has wronged them. You know in the Bible, Jesus was asked if we are supposed to forgive someone seven times. He said, “No, seventy times seven.” In other words just keep forgiving them. If this is not your nature or personality, just try doing this for a while and you will see a tremendous change in your life for the better. If our world is going to be better for our children and grandchildren after we are gone, we must learn to live together in harmony, peace and love.
Here is something that sums up what I have been saying. It is called “The Builder.” “I saw them tearing a building down, a gang of men in my hometown. With a heave and a-ho, and a yes-yes yell, they swung a beam and a sidewall fell. And I said to the foreman, ‘Are these men skilled? Like the ones you would use if you had to build?’ And he laughed and said, ‘Oh no, indeed … the most common labor is all I need, for I can destroy in a day or two what takes a builder 10 years to do.’ So I thought to myself as I went on my way … which of these roles am I willing to play? Am I the one who is tearing down, as I carelessly make my way around? Or am I the one who builds with care, in order to make the world a better place … simply because I was there?” (Author Unknown)
(EDITOR’S NOTE: THE DEAL OF THE CENTURY – Begin your day on a positive note – 365 days for $12. This will benefit the Bookcase for Every Child project. Go to to subscribe.)