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Aren't There Too Many I's In Criticism?

Dec 6, 2007
Criticism - Aristotle said that we could avoid it be saying nothing, doing nothing and being nothing. Benjamin Franklin said that any fool can criticize and most fools do. According to Errol Flynn, it didn't matter what people said about you - just what they whispered. Then there was my grandmother. She said that sticks and stones could break my bones, but names would never hurt me - but she didn't stop there. My grandmother took it one step further. She told me to use the sticks and stones to build a wall.

My grandmother was unique. She never got personally involved with her fault finding. If she was less than pleased with something I'd done or something I hadn't done, she'd ask me if I was pleased with it. Grandmother's question should have been packed in a suitcase - ready for a guilt trip.

Grandmother's comments were always constructive. When comments aren't constructive, I smile and wait and then criticize them.

The difference between constructive and non-constructive comments is who's making them. Often it's me, talking to myself about what I should do. Should-do's are like dust. You can get rid of them, but more come back. Frankly, I'd rather receive constructive comments from someone else because that someone else will eventually go home and leave me alone.

Nevertheless, if I accept compliments, I have to accept non-compliments - opinions. It's part of the balance of life. My life, of course, would be more balanced if I could think of opinions as compliments, if I could appreciate someone taking time to help me - but I can't. I can take that kind of opinion, but I can't take it far.

Advice can be judgment in sheep's clothing. How often have you heard the phrase, "If you want my advice"? When I hear that phrase, I hear my grandmother saying, "Be careful what you take. Sometimes you can't return it".

The dictionary defines criticism as pertaining especially to literary and artistic work. This brings back memories of long discussions in English classes about books I was reading. Am I the only one who wonders if Melville, O'Henry and Steinbeck would have finished their books if they'd spent as much time thinking about the words they used?

Am I the only one who wonders if my family knows the dictionary definition of criticism? If they do, they think my cooking is an artistic work.
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KNIGHT PIERCE HIRST takes humorous looks at life.
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