Friday, December 22, 2006

For those in the trenches of life

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat"
- Theodore Roosevelt

That quote is almost like watching a Rocky movie. It's a full-life plot.

The old saying is that no one ever built a statue to a critic. Critics don't build anything themselves. Their purpose is to stir up interest in a topic, a project, a candidate or something that will make someone a lot of money.

Critics always evaluate only those things which were created by those who were "in the trenches." They never get their hands dirty themselves.

A worthy critic would provide constructive criticism of what he critiques. How to make something better, more meaningful, more magnificent or more significent next time would be worth the investment of time to create and to read. Yet critics mostly act like the citizens of Rome at the gladiator circus: thumbs up or thumbs down.

Most of us labour for most of our lives in the trenches of life. Critics don't take notice of us, except in annoying ways such as a neighbour who doesn't like what we have done with the tree or garden in our yard.

However, getting attention from critics is a sign of becoming better known. Few except bigots are prepared to criticize those who have nothing or who have done nothing. Critics will only give attention to those they know have been noticed by many people. They bask in the reflected light from extraordinary trench-workers. In fact, they illuminate the ones who need and deserve attention most.

It would do us well to accept that if someone criticises us, we have been noticed. Praise is short-lived and often shallow. But add a critic into the mix where someone is being praised and the subject takes on star qualities, especially in terms of attention.

Criticism is not necessarily a bad thing. If the praisers largely outnumber the critics, those who are criticised are definitely doing something right.

And being noticied for it.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, striving to stir the pot until the critics come to the surface.
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