The fallacy in constructive criticism

Criticism is the opposite of compliment, just as destruction is opposed to construction. Criticism serves to nullify the thing being criticized. The term referred to as, “constructive criticism” is commonly accepted in communication, and yet driven by the consideration of destruction. In real-life conditions, there can never be anything like constructive criticism. It is impossible for one who criticizes to be constructive at the same time.

Lack of progress in whatever is intended to be achieved can be a result of failure to make these distinctions. The aim of criticism should be understood as only intended for destruction. In the process of construction, there will always be necessary adjustments, for improving whatever would be developed. This is made possible through effective communication, aiming at achieving the most adorable quality product. Hiding behind the term, “constructive criticism,” is unnecessary, as criticism and construction have no relationship.

When a person would not be constructing, he would either be destroying or criticizing. There can never be destructive criticism, in this life, as criticism is duly designed for destruction. This is different from proffering improvement suggestions by those mistaken for providing constructive criticism.

Although ardently malicious, criticisms can be used to improve, by progressive individuals. It can only be the criticized person taking advantage of criticism, to address weaknesses. Progressive people envisage value in criticism, commonly coming from enemies. The less progressive people treat criticism as anathema.

Progressive people treat every human as a friend; hence benefitting from antagonistic criticisms. Such characters seek to understand, even those coming with guns to shoot them. Those engaged in constructive activities deserve compliments, rather than criticism. They need to be always complimented and helped by showing areas that could improve their projects.

This refers to those regarded as supporters, rather than assumed to be providing “constructive criticism.” The oxymoronic term, “constructive criticism,” assumes that some humans are superior or inferior to others. This projects the only reason causing debilitating wars, assumed as necessary for establishing peace.

The axiomatic law of treating others as one likes to be treated nullifies criticism as a prerequisite. One handles either constructive principles or destructive principles, based on fundamentals. Not everything needs support or enhancement unless deserving consideration for improvement.

When fundamentals are considered as would eventually become harmful, whatever is constructed deserves destruction. For instance, God annulled the Tour of Babel idea, as He considered the design’s ultimate end to be human destruction. It is impossible to engage in war when considering the fundamentals of communication. Can it be possible for normal people to be threatened by constructive ideas?

The reason for behaving like that comes from assuming there would be survival in self-centeredness. From self-centeredness, can be derived witchcraft and all forms of wickedness. Self-centeredness brews jealousness, commonly manifesting in criticism. Such people consider constructive people, threatening. This portrays the unbelievable weirdness, but is true.

A joke is told of a man who visited his pastor, seeking advice on how to effectively utilize criticism as his only talent. This man was assumed to be gifted in criticizing other people’s ideas. He had a long list of failed projects attributed to his ability to criticize, showing how good he was as a critic. Such people are commonly highly respected in society, although without any progressive achievements to show.

The pastor listened to him patiently, while validating a talent that had granted him prominence, in political circles. Just as fame is monetarily rewarding, he pitched as one considered for valuable contributors. After finishing his rave about his talent, the man paused, in anticipation of a blessing from the man of God. The pastor first politely acknowledged him for articulating his only talent.

“From what I have heard from you, the only appropriate advice is that you go and bury that talent, as early as possible,” the pastor suggested. Initially, the young man could not duplicate the pastor’s suggestion. He expected the usual flattering comments. The pastor forthrightly repeated that the workable advice was to bury that talent. Failure to bury it would eventually lead that young man towards self-destruction in hell.

Nothing else could be considered effective, except the pastor’s advice. The world could be regarded as better without such destructive talent holders. One of the language failures is assuming that there exists constructive criticism that suggests the possibility of valuable reality in criticism. A person can benefit from criticism, although such critics would not be intending to cause beneficial improvement. Joseph can be a case in point. His brothers were critical of him, intending to harm him. But God used that for goodness’s sake.

It should be noted that there is nothing wrong with meritorious criticism of anti-survival projects. Criticizing the non-survival activities should be regarded as constructive, rather than being considered as destructive. For instance, when invalidating drug abuse or pornography, one is, nevertheless, constructive, rather than being considered as destructive.

Progressive people use criticism against activities that reduce potential survival in humanity. That cannot be assumed as constructive criticism, but should rightly be surmised as constructive advice. What deserves destruction should be criticized effectively, without leaving any chance of possible resurgence, under normal conditions. The person criticizing should not be ambiguous about criticizing the wrongness of whatever would be potentially destructive.

As progressive humans, we do well, when always projecting the truth without ambiguity, against harmful activities. Criticism aims at eradicating the proffered product, without improving it, and yet compliments enhance quality. That should be regarded as the only purpose for human survival. There should be clarity in such considerations. Destroyers cannot be on the side of construction and vice versa. Ideally, humans should be regarded as not different from God.

“No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. We know that we live in him and he in us because he has given us his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he is in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.

“In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the Day of Judgment because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:12-21 NIV).

The above Scripture gives no room for “constructive criticism,” as aiming at building, rather than destroying. Young people are often demoralized by parents who assume constructive criticism improves their well-being. Rather than encourage children in areas of strength, ignorant parents engage in criticizing them over and over again. They assume this to be what enhances their children’s developmental conditions. Such criticisms serve only to take away any confidence those children might have, for their future development.

A good education can be described as focusing on positively enhancing whatever would be praiseworthy, as projected by a child. Good educators rarely comment on negative performances by their students. Highlighting positive performance has the effect of suppressing negative performance. Conversely, highlighting negative performance has the effect of suppressing positive performance. Poor educational achievements are caused by not knowing the existence of this maxim.

Life becomes unbearable to discouraged children, by critical parents. But what is worse is that the child adopts criticism, as a cultural heritage, essential for passing over to his children. The cycle repeats itself, accordingly, to the next impending generations. This is the only reason for the existence of a society that appears confused in areas of livingness. Hatred and acerbic criticism are considered as necessary part of life, when the opposite ought to be true.

Criticism gets further complications, brought by those in the journalism profession, whose income is derived from critical reporting. In a confused environment, such as ours, some people derive income from where there would be more suffering and death. During the Covid 19 pandemic, some people made astronomical profits, wishing the pandemic remained intact, forever. This is what describes the condition of the world we live in. The crying and suffering by one section of the populace, causes others to feel economically blessed.

The work of an editor can be described as a professional critic. I suppose such professionals are not different from the young man who was advised to bury his talent. There is truth in that reliable information comes from edited material. But that exists in the minds of a confused society. The editor’s job is to direct a narrative. There ought to be a better term to describe an editor, than the current one that makes an editor more of a critic.

In recent years a formerly renowned editor of “The Daily Newspaper” attempted to author a book whose impact failed dismally. From his background, as a critic of the ZANU PF government, one would have expected him to be successful. Observably, while a critic can be effective in helping progressive innovators, a critic becomes insignificant in the long run. A critic can never produce constructive material, having succeeded in the profession of critical analyses.

This describes what causes failure in opposition politics, although assumed to oppose corruption in government. Zimbabwe is currently at that level, which appears as might take time before coming out of that slumber. Opposition politics should be regarded as an alternative, rather than as an opponent, characterized by criticism. A progressive nation should never be described according to opposition politics. This world needs builders and not critics, if anything tangible could reach out to ordinary humanity.

Criticism is advanced by destructive people, always aiming at demolition. The current civilization is better off when governed according to democratic tenets. There is no human being who deserves to be criticised. The evaluation of data is what is important, without necessarily criticizing personalities. The livelihood of the majority should not be stifled but enhanced. The governing authorities do not need criticism, just as those in opposition do not need criticism. What should dominate are good ideas and not criticisms.

The work of criticism is of the devil, who seeks to instil enmity among people, so they can unnecessarily kill each other. Those who are bent on criticism can be susceptible to murdering their opponents. One cannot be a critic and not be a murderer, using the same reflection. The Pharisees were the chief critics of Jesus.

The critics can easily be observed by being emotional, rather than being principled. Hence, the Pharisees killed Jesus. But among them was a scholar, whose name was Gamaliel; who knew that there was no intrinsic value in criticizing. Unworkable ideas diminish, without necessarily attracting criticism.

“But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honoured by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. Then he addressed them ‘Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! If their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against Go” (Acts 5:34-39 NIV).

Gamaliel provided highly effective advice, usable in our conditions. The misinformed people might take him for someone who supported the apostles. However, Gamaliel was using the principle of nullifying the undue criticism. What is false dies away, without having to be opposed.

Out of ignorance, many people become highly emotional when criticising for the sake of criticising. It takes only the decent characters, like Gamaliel, to remain calm, over things not yet fully comprehended. I can imagine how those who crucified Jesus will eventually feel, when, at that time, confronted with the truth, regarding their stupidity.

Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those who have witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. Most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope, in a simple conversational tone.

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