Without He That Takes Initiative, He That Criticises Has No Purpose

2013-09-21 19:58

It is in the nature of man to at all times opine. Accompanying opinion is people’s need, probably physiological, to criticise—at times as a disguise for hate and discouragement.

There are of course cases where opinion counts as constructive and inspirational.

Biblically, if one were to add a new commandment (s) to the already existing ones, ‘Thou Shalt Have Opinion’ would definitely make it into the revised version.

Opinion in itself has been the most uphill challenge for artists, scholars, writers and even aspiring innovators, to survive and conquer. There are many ideas that have been stuck in the pipeline for decades just because those who held them weren’t courageous enough to face the inevitably oncoming and fierce criticism.

Unavoidably, criticism is an important aspect of one’s development in one’s chosen field. But when does criticism become unfair or self-serving? Well, the moment the one who criticises fails to firstly and honestly acknowledge the innovative efforts of the other person, we can correctly flush such criticism down the sewage of unfairness.

During ‘The Ace Moloi Book Celebration’, which took place on 14 September 2013 at a packed House Outeniqua on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State, and sponsored by among others, the Office of the Dean: Student Affairs at the UFS, and a few private companies, one Siviwe Mzantsi asked about my preparedness as a young, newly-published author to withstand criticism that will without any doubt come, since, as he’d say it, “people talk”.

Although I had already mentioned during the book discussion that I am the biggest critic of myself, Mzantsi was concerned about the fact that I am also human and can be broken down by what people say regarding my book. Of course he had a point, because regardless of the self-confidence possessed, someone out there will always feel obliged to grill. However, it is important to note that without a person who takes an initiative to do something with his/her life, the one who criticises doesn’t really have business on earth. That is to say, there are people who are very good at reacting to how certain things were done—how books were written, how songs were sung, how the awards ceremony was hosted, how the speech was delivered, and how this blog should have been written.

The need to have an opinion, and assume that the opinion is the only one that counts, tells a story about the selfishness and unfairness of most people towards others.

Moreover, the manner of approach when we criticise or voice our opinions plays a significant role in the morale of whosoever it is we seek to ‘grill’. Young as I am (21 years), I have lived to realise that the approach taken when criticising or advising is actually the pivot around which the criticism/advice is interpreted. For example, how do we sort out haters from supporters when all of them have one thing in common—opinions about our work/artistic performances?

The hater/supporter classification is largely informed by the manner of approach, including the tone and wording employed in the process of opining.

For many young people with ambitions to produce material for worldwide consumption, “What will people say” is one of the toughest questions to seek answers to. This we ask regardless of the cliché that people will always talk, whether one does good or bad.

Criticism is powerful.

Criticism is double-edged; it builds and detonates.

Criticism is feared.

They say the best way to avoid criticism is to do nothing with one's life, but either way you’ll still be criticised for not doing anything. Nothing can save us from criticism. Unfortunately there is not to my attention an existing formula to overcome it.

What has been working for me as a young South African has been the self-generated theory that if I don’t initiate, the person whose criticism I am afraid of will remain silent forever, awaiting my move so as to appear smart in rectifying and suggesting how I should have gone about in writing a book or releasing an album.

Truth is, there are people who are just waiting for us to walk so that they may criticise our walking style. There are people who can’t wait for us to occupy leadership positions so that they may suddenly have views on our leadership styles. Most of those people seldom own anything tangible or hold any prominent portfolio. All they ever do is seek attention through our initiatives.

Whenever you are being (unfairly) criticised on your initiative, be proud, in the midst of the forethought to defend yourself, that you at least inspired someone else’s purpose—that is, the business of criticism.

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