Writing 101, Day 12: Critique a piece of work.
Today, express your opinion on a topic or a piece of work. This is your opportunity to comment on something you’re passionate about, or review a piece of art or entertainment that you love or despise.
When I first read this prompt, my initial thoughts were: who am I to critique the creativity of another? And then I remembered that not all critique is negative. However, for some reason, when I think of the word ‘critique’, I am reminded of the many ways in which people criticise and vilify one another; our co-workers; that person we saw on the television last night; our children; our spouses; the lady on the bus! Sometimes we don’t even realise we are doing it… But why do we criticise others? It is as though we believe tearing shreds out of one another will make us feel better.
I am not immune to this and have expressed opinions I have later regretted, particularly in my teenaged years when I simply followed the crowd and was far less aware of the power of my words. As I have grown, so has my compassion for others. These days, if I catch myself or another being insensitive or narrow minded, then I will simply remove myself from the situation, or speak up should I feel it necessary. Quite often we get caught up in the moment and we forget to be that beacon of light – our true authentic selves.
Working alongside children, it becomes easier to notice the effect our words have on others. Even a seemingly harmless comment made in jest can have a profound effect on the way children see themselves and the world around them. Although we become thicker skinned as we get older, we are still, as adults, sensitive to criticism. That is why I believe that critique should always uplift and inspire, that our feedback should allow one another to grow, to evolve and expand; it should never cause ridicule or upset.
Next time we catch ourselves or someone else criticising a friend’s recent weight gain, or the lady from the television who seems to have gone overboard with her plastic surgery, let us be mindful of the deeper issues that may have contributed to their actions in the first place. Could it be that outside criticism has driven our friend to take comfort in food as a way of filling the void? Maybe the lady from the television has been made to feel ugly all of her life and has changed her appearance in an attempt to fit in and feel accepted? Equally, is it necessary to provide negative feedback about someone else’s work/painting/book/production? Of course we are entitled to our opinions, our unique likes and dislikes are what make us human and differentiate us from everyone else – but what doesn’t speak to my heart may speak volumes to another. That is why I take little notice of book or film reviews; they are, after all, just personal opinions.
So in a world that, at times, feels clouded with criticism, prejudice and judgement, let us refrain from following the crowd and stand up for what we believe in. Let it be that our words, thoughts and actions uplift, inspire and empower others, not tear them apart.
Peace be with you.