the thing about criticism

In America being critical is quite fashionable. People who don’t even own a pair of Tom’s have their heart’s closet packed full of harsh, bold criticism. Harsh and bold colors are favored because they are the only ones that stand out against the back drop of muted, simmering tones of seasons gone by.

A couple thoughts:

Harsh criticism steals the processes of life from other people. These kinds of critics love to be the experts and insert their journey on others because they assume that similar circumstances should yield similar results – and of course, you should end up like them! Their experiences are the truest, most valid. Surely no one could experience ‘A’ and end up like ‘B’!

Harsh criticism is really just our internal insecurities made audible. When a person gives voice to their inner insecurities, then criticism is surely one of the first thing to pass out of the heart and into the air. When an insecure person gets around someone great or talented or even simply more secure than they are there is a tendency to feel exposed as though all of their weakness is being put on display. Sadly criticism kicks in. It’s a defense mechanism, an attempt to take the ‘light’ off their own life. The result are harsh words that attempt to show the other person as weak too. In extreme cases the insecure person interprets another, more secure persons actions as an indictment. Words that were never spoken are ‘heard’, internalized, and regurgitated as critical venom.

Harsh criticism is the false belief that ‘what we do’ is the determining factor in our personal value. This kind of criticism is an attempt to maintain a tight grip on one’s ‘home turf’ – what one is good at, what one is known for, what one has made. If someone is better at the stuff I’m good at, then my ‘value’ is diminished. All the while my true value is located in the fact that I belong to God, His beloved son.

For artists, creatives and musicians insecurity and criticism must be dealt with because if they are not we place an impenetrable ceiling above all our most valuable aspirations. The best art is almost always an expression of community. If we only see others as competition, then there will never the kind of cooperation it takes to break into new levels. If I can’t be around people who are ‘better than me’ or ‘more secure than me’ then I can never grow. So many of us are ‘stuck’ – it could be insecurity and criticism.