It’s easy to criticize

August 24, 2016 by in category Columns tagged as with 0 and 0
Home > Columns > It’s easy to criticize
…but I wish there were rules—at least with any public criticism—that required the critic to present a viable alternative (and “viable” is a key word here!). A sort of Thumper-like commitment that if you are going to say something negative, you have to provide a reasonable positive alternative.  That would certainly shut a lot of people up (yours truly among others!).
Is there a better way of doing it?  Is there a better choice? Think about it. Actually think.
If you do, you may determine that the results you are complaining about (sub-optimal as they may indeed be) are the really the best alternative.
Every day we all experience the complex algorithms we work with in daily life to get something accomplished.  It could be the choices we make in getting our kids up, dressed, fed and out the door to school or it could be a business merger.  We balance encouragement, threats, incentives (bribery), etc. to get the job done as well, as quickly, as effortlessly, as humanely (or not), as possible to motivate behavior and get the results we want or need.
That can make for a lot of complex juggling of timing, personalities, personal values, choices, priorities, mood, costs, external pressures etc. The end result often may not be ideal or what we had hoped for. But that’s part of being an imperfect person in an imperfect world.  Life doesn’t usually give us “do-overs.”
The situations we and others face are rarely black and white.  But especially with technology, we can make a judgment without any knowledge or context and we actually expect to be taken seriously.
Complaints—especially now about politicians and the political process—display a startling naïveté, absence of thought and a shocking lack of awareness of history.
I have to admit to being Kinseyan in my assessment of human behavior—if most people have been doing something for centuries, it is unlikely that any person, belief-system or rhetoric will be able to airbrush that behavior out.
It’s not that change can’t happen, it can.  But it’s a slow and hard fought battle and all the incremental gains can be easily lost. There needs to be a realignment of incentives (and there’s usually no incentive to realign them) so it takes real thought and effective politics to get something done.  If you can’t read actual history, watch Lincoln or All the Way for an understanding of what it actually takes to get something done.
As a female, the history of women’s suffrage is depressing—it’s been less than century (19th Amendment was August 18, 1920) in the USA, something to remember as Americans finger-point other countries’ lack of gender equality. That’s about 150 years into our nationhood, and there are still a fair number of Americans who are feeling a bit sad about it & would like to turn back the clock. Change takes time.


Yes, it’s easy to criticize. But it’s far less appealing to be criticized, so before dishing it out, consider if there is a viable alternative (and “viable” is a key word here!) before excoriating the stupidity of others.  

Judge something on its own merits/demerits: don’t blame the peacock for its tail or wish it were a chicken and provided eggs.

Isabel Swift 

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