Saturday, December 28, 2013

Justin Bieber, Criticism and Purpose

 What right do I have to criticize others?  Is it helpful?  Is it the best use of my own time?  Granted, it’s easy to do, but I wonder how helpful it is.  I also wonder if it’s just another way to keep us from our Purpose.  No, I don’t wonder.  I’m sure it is.  Here are some questions I am considering:
·      What is criticism? 
·      Why is it so popular?
·      What do people gain from it?
·      Is there ever a place for it?
·      Is there a cure for it?

First, what is criticism?  In, it says:

1.  the act of passing judgment as to the merits of anything.
2.  the act of passing severe judgment; censure; faultfinding.
3.  the act or art of analyzing and evaluating or judging the quality of a literary or
     artistic work, musical performance, art exhibit, dramatic production, etc.
4.  a critical comment, article, or essay; critique.
5.  any of various methods of studying texts or documents for the purpose of
dating or reconstructing them, evaluating their authenticity, analyzing their content or style, etc.: historical criticism; literary criticism.

I think in contemporary society, most people use the first two definitions and completely disregard the final three.  The last three mean analysis.  The first two mean to tear down.  Analysis requires thought.  Tearing down requires no thought.  In fact, thoughtless (rudeness and lack of analysis) are almost required to tear others down.  Analysis requires courage.  It requires inner peace.   Most of all, it requires an open mind, even if it means some of my ideas or beliefs may be wrong.
Criticism that tears down requires only rage and the inability or, more accurately, the unwillingness to learn and grow or to listen and accept.  I see this in myself when it comes to political discussions.  And I will never believe that it’s necessary for ordinary citizens to own assault weapons, no matter what the NRA says about their rights or the 2nd Amendment.  I realize I have my own room for growth here.
Criticism isn’t just reserved for the political discussions or the right to bear arms.  We use it for entertainment of all kinds, sports, the media, religion and most of all, other people’s work. 
I’ve used the example of Justin  Bieber before.  I like some of his songs.  Others I can take or leave.  I saw the movie about him and I thought he was a talented young man.   But I’ve seen people hate him with a fury that should only be reserved for one’s worst enemies.  People hate him, I use the word “hate” intentionally, as if he had personally wronged them.   They say he has no talent.  They question his sexuality. I’ve never seen a careful analysis of his music.   Why?  I think the real reason people hate Justin Bieber is because he’s popular and he has done things most of us can’t or won’t. 
I think the same is true of anyone who puts him or herself in the spotlight.   Eventually, the target’s personal life is examined and here it may be found wanting, as are most people’s personal lives.   But what business of it is mine and how does it affect my life if Justin is rude to someone or Britney has a meltdown or Tiger has an affair?  Unless I can directly help these people, why do I even need to know?  Why do any of us need to know?  The most I can do is pray for them.  Otherwise, I have far more important things to consider.
Sometimes I think we build people up simply for the sake of tearing them down.   I also think there is something more sinister going on.  I think there are forces, political, economic and spiritual, that want nothing more than to see us obsess over and criticize celebrities and sports figures so that we don’t have to think about why are here on this planet.
What do we gain from criticizing?  It gives us a sense of power.  Our anger makes us feel alive.  It makes us right and it makes someone else wrong.  And if a lot of people agree with us, all the better.  That proves I’m right.  That proves I’m not alone.  Congratulations!  I just joined a mob.
In an online article, there is this more well-thought-out critique:
The Daily Beast’s Rawiya Kameir writes:
“The instinct to direct society’s collective vitriol at a more-or-less harmless teenager is not about him or his antics, but about the fallout of celebrity culture and the myth of capitalism, wherein one’s success is directly tied to one’s worth. The non-Beliebing public doesn’t hate him because he posts too many selfies on Instagram, but because he signifies something far more insidious than the pop culture machine: he is publicly young and rich and otherwise privileged in a time during which growing social and economic inequalities are cleaving the fabric of everything we once believed in… It’s easier, and maybe more enjoyable, to hate something you can see but can’t touch. This is how one copes.”

Is there ever a place for criticism?  For the man or woman in Purpose, no, there isn’t.  But we’ve made plenty of room for it anyway in this fallen world of ours.  This is because most people aren’t in their Purpose.  When I’m writing, I rarely have the time, energy or even the interest in criticizing someone else.  I have too much work to do.  The only person’ work I’m concerned with is mine.  I have more than enough work to do and plenty of room for improvement.  This keeps me from obsessing about someone else. 
There is, however, a place, and even a desperate need, for thoughtful analysis or critique.  If someone wants to give me a well-thought-out discussion as to why the San Diego Chargers aren’t as good as the Chicago Bears, I’m willing to listen.  What I don’t want to hear is, “The Chargers suck!”   And, again, since sports is not part of my Purpose, I’m not interested in someone’s rage about something that ultimately is not truly relevant to most people.  I don’t identify with sports, movies, television, celebrities or politics.  I’m here to do a handful of things and do them well.  I don’t have much time for anything else. 
Finally, is there a cure for criticism?  For me, someone who can be and has been very critical, only this:  Find my Purpose and Get Started and Keep Going.  That’s the only thing that works for me.