An Easy Target

November 10, 2020 • Insights on Life

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This article, as one of my readers so nicely put it, is about “…success as a subject and a target for criticism.” 

“If men perceived their own faults as they do the faults of others, could misfortune ever come to them?” ~ Tiruvalluvar

Many years ago I was having a cup of coffee with a wise friend in a cafe by the beach in Australia and I asked him why do people criticize those who are successful. He replied, “When you are up there, you are an easy target”. 

For example, America is an easy target. It’s so easy to pick on. As a nation it stands tall and high. 

(Now, I know America consists of north, central and south, but the America I refer to here is the only nation in The Americas to proudly bear the name America.)

Why doesn’t anyone criticize Benin? No, that is not a person. It’s a nation. Oh, you’ve never heard of it? Do you even know where on this planet it is? Or have I just made it up. Now you are wondering. I bet you many people will Google it now. 

So, why hasn’t anyone criticized Benin? Because Benin has not had the success America has. 

Though so many people criticize the United States, most of these critics watch American movies, listen to music by American artists, use hardware and software technology created by Americans, are inspired by American fashion, and ape American trends.

You only pick on and criticize someone or something because you are insecure. If you were secure within yourself your perspective would be one of celebration for another’s success. Your perspective would be that of empathy and compassion knowing that behind the success is failure, on the other side of the light is darkness, that peace was born out of turmoil, and that every beautiful flower garden has weeds. A secure, mature, wise person would acknowledge the existence of the weeds and the flowers knowing that this is how it is. Knowing that there is simply no need to beat up on the weeds. 

It is so much easier to stand on the sidelines and criticize. To rip apart what you see, like vultures, with your opinions that are based on, almost all of the time, absolutely nothing and definitely not experienced based. But it is so easy to elevate oneself to an expert all-knowing status and cast a dark shadow on what you see. 

It makes a person feel good to criticize. It covers up their insecurity. It covers up their shortcomings. Pulling someone or something down strangely enough feels like it is elevating you. But in truth it does not elevate you. You are just leveling the playing field in your mind without realizing that you are still where you were prior to dragging the other person down…in a lower state of mind. 

I work with some highly talented individuals who are more than often criticized for their performance. How can you criticize someone when you are nowhere near their level of talent? You do not have the experience nor expertise to criticize. But it makes you feel good to share your two cents so you do it. 

We are all guilty of this. Shows how many of us are insecure. Sometimes we do it silently in the security and safety of our own mind. Sometimes we feel brave and feel the need to hear ourselves when we hear others feeling the need to hear themselves. Never feel obliged to join a verbal lapidation party. 

Celebrate, don’t criticize. Timely constructive criticism shared with empathy and love with the sole intent to selflessly serve on the other hand is a boon should it land on a humble ear. 

My guru admonished, “Speak that which is true, kind, helpful and necessary.” 

Good parting words for this letter.

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