Sunday, September 25, 2011

Would You Rather Be a Practitioner Or a Critic?

In the scene in the movie "The Matrix" when Morpheus took Neo to see the Oracle for the first time, the Oracle showed him a proverb exhibited in a frame. The proverb stated, "Knowing the path is different from walking the path." I also believe these two things are different. When we drive somewhere for the first time, we check for directions on a map. However, the map does not warn us about snowfall in the mountains or if there is an accident that has closed the roads. This is the difference between "knowing" and "walking." Quite recently I started to see the difference between "knowing," "understanding," and "practicing."

There are a group of people who continuously study and accumulate knowledge. Another group tries to learn more and develop a deeper understanding of a subject of their choice. The difference is how the people use their knowledge and understanding. Some of them use their knowledge for criticizing others. Others use their knowledge to improve themselves. I am not talking about evaluation of who is better or superior. There are great players who are lousy coaches. There are other people, who are not very good as players and instead become prominent coaches or critics.

According to a mental health therapist, there are people who seem to be unable to stop themselves from criticizing others. According to the psychological definition, criticizing is the process of downgrading others in order to uphold the feeling of superiority. Obviously critical people have a desire to look better than others.

We see a lot of people who are always saying bad things about others. They say, "my boss is incapable," or "my wife does not understand the meaning of business," or "this movie sucks." Those people may feel better saying bad things about others. The question is, however, how others feel about the criticism they receive. Sarcastically enough, we tend not to like critical people, even though those critics feel better about themselves. Instead, we tend to like practitioners, who continue to try even though they often fail. We tend to believe that people who fail repeatedly will succeed if they continue to put in effort.

Revisiting the earlier part of this article, criticism can be made by "knowing the path." Only those who have walked the path can explain what it was like. The audience knows the difference between criticism that is either partial or opinionated. In addition, criticizing is a negative action. Negativity belongs to the dark side of our consciousness and society. We tend to admire positive actions rather than negative behavior. Next time when you are criticized, you should do what we do. Be glad to be criticized. Be glad to at least be recognized.

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