It’s easy to criticise. Not just that it comes easily to us but in reality, when you didn’t do something yourself, it’s easier for you to see places where things could have been done differently than it is for the person who did it. Quite possibly the person who did it tapped out their creativity or budget or time on the existing ‘finished’ product. Also they probably had challenges that you don’t know about. Either way it’s easy to spot where things are not to our liking or where things could be improved. So criticism is easy, and can be useful. But how often is it constructive, productive, or even necessary?
Very often our criticism stops at ‘i don’t like’ or ‘den jeesam she cuddn just’ or ‘me God, den dem never have somebody weh cudda tell dem nuffi’…and etc etc etc. We come to an event that somebody has planned and murmur about having to stand up. We come to somebody’s house and cuss bout how dust deh everywhere, we eat something somebody has cooked and grouse bout how it ital or salt, we see somebody’s outfit and marvel at how dem feel dem coulda wear summn like dat wid a body like dat! But what would you have done differently? If you had to deal with all they were dealing with,what could you have done differently? Moreover was it necessary to do anything differently…does it really need to be ‘improved’ or just tailored to you? And are there any useful suggestions you can make for improvement?
For criticism to serve any purpose other than making us feel slightly better about ourselves, or to fill the gaping silence that looms between us and whatever person we’re talking to, it must have some use. But better than that, it must be necessary. Very often we don’t do the work to separate out our own personal….very personal preferences, or our desire to do things the same way every time….from what really needs improvement in a situation. For example, if we’re at an event and chairs seem short, perhaps the planner did that because they didn’t want people sitting, let’s go play the party games or *eek* meet new people! Perhaps the person is cooking with less salt because they’re hypertensive or trying to live healthier, maybe we should try the likkle ital food and flash imaginary locs. Perhaps they’re wearing that outfit because they bought it and they like it, it may not be to our liking, but neither is it on your or my body nor will we have to deal with any backlash that may come. And our criticism, though we may call it that rather than ‘finding fault’ to make ourselves feel better, is actually the very same thing, finding fault and offering no solutions.
Bitter words can be tasty. Talking trash about people and things is the fastest way to make ourselves popular at parties and in life. Everybody loves a little shade throwing. But, eventually, we’ll all have to stop and look at what we’re contributing to the energy in our lives and the lives of others. Eventually we’ll have to see about ourselves instead of looking at others. What can we do to make a situation different, other than talk about it, which is easiest but most useless? What can we do to make sure that something is better the next time around or better after we’ve left…in a real way?
Criticism must be accompanied by action and good intent if it is to be anything but bitterness. And to get to a point of action and good intent takes energy from us. Physical energy to make changes to situations, mental energy to find solutions to the ‘problems’ we see and to figure out why we’re criticising. Why does that bitterness taste so good? And can we learn to live and be engaging without it?
It’s as simple as this:
You see that someone needs a better version of something and you know who has one, suggest the name, put the two people in contact with each other.
You come to somebody’s house and you see that they’re run ragged trying to work and do school and maybe take care of some person or animal or whatever at the same time. Wash the glass you just drank out of and if you’re close enough to them….wash the rest of the dishes in the sink. THEN resist the urge to walk and tell people that you did it and to judge the person for not being able to balance it all by themselves.
You see that somebody’s pants split open or their strap burst, instead of snickering and wondering how long the clothes inna closet and how many moths are homeless because them tek it out, offer the pin you have in your pocket or in your car, go get it and pin them up.
You have energy? Share it. In a way that involves more than beating up your gums.
I’m guilty, I can bitter a person with the best of them, but I try not to talk about the things that are personal and the things I know the person may really be struggling with. Either way, bitterness can be fun but it can’t exist on it’s own. There’s work that has to be done as well.
So from now on I am challenging myself. I will throw a little shade…me nah tell yu say me nah go shade people, but I shade responsibly.
But I am challenging myself to be more active. To actively share my energy with people in a way that improves their lives. To challenge myself to expend the mental energy necessary to think up solutions before I speak. To speak carefully and with caring when I do. To care in the first place. I am challenging myself to realise that I wasn’t promised a life full of rest and I should not resent giving a little of my energy or time to working with/or for another even after working a full week. If my friend is cleaning house, gimme a broom. Mek we buss few joke while we a dweet and a a tin a bulli beef when it done. Di work get done twice as fast and we can go par. If di food ital, me try di ital life, or ask di smaddy why, suppose summn a gwaan inna dem life weh me nein know? If seat nuh deh bout…me stan up and mingle…and chat bout summn odda dan wah ‘wrong’ wid di party.
Di whole a we a live, but we need likkle more purpose. Likkle more usefulness. And yu wudda shock how di sweetness a dem summn deh can replace plenty a di bitterness weh we swallow a day time and smile. And most importantly, dem action deh move tings forward, move we forward, move people forward ad up.
Criticism with suggestions become just that, suggestions. And suggestions help.
On the flip side we all need too learn how to receive suggestions without tekkin offence. To say we are not perfect is an over simplification but is anodda blog post dat.
Happy Monday Fambili. Peace and Happiness be wid yu fi da week yah.