Silencing destructive criticism
What can each of us do to help silence destructive criticism throughout the world? It might seem impossible to make a contribution on such a broad scale, but we can start by being less critical at home, at school, in the office, at church. We can accept the premise that other individuals and groups will have viewpoints that do not conform to our own. And, above all, we can identify all people spiritually - discern their actual selfhood as offspring of the same Father. The realization of this spiritual fact will sweeten consciousness, making us less critical of each other and more tolerant of the differences we see.
Many times when we criticize others we are merely comparing ourselves with them in order to confirm our own sense of identity and, perhaps, to build up some self-esteem. We may not even be aware we are doing this, and much less have any rationale for stopping it. Basically we need to realize that everyone, in his true being, is the complete reflection of God, therefore wholly good and not subject to comparisons or degrees of good. We need to look past the mortal picture of a good or bad person to the immortal man of God's creating. This man is always perfect and needs no changing. This is not to suggest we ignore evil or avoid constructive criticism. Certainly we have the responsibility to face up to wrongdoing and deal with it. But the most effective way to deal with it is through viewing man from a spiritual standpoint.
A friend recently told me how she confronted the temptation to participate in gossip at her office. One day when she heard critical remarks being made about some of her fellow workers, she realized she had a choice. She could either listen to these remarks and be pulled into the conversation, or she could lift her thought so far above the level of criticism that she wouldn't react or respond to what was said. So she turned in thought to the Bible verse ''Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.'' n1 She knew her responsibility was to keep her own thought pure in order to discern the spiritual identity of everyone involved - the criticizers as well as the criticized. She reasoned that if just one person took a stand against the gossip , the atmosphere of the whole office would, in a measure, be purified, and everyone there would be benefited. Before long she noticed that someone had changed the subject; and since then the rumblings have been less frequent.
n1 Psalms 51:10.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, observes: ''There is no door through which evil can enter, and no space for evil to fill in a mind filled with goodness. Good thoughts are an impervious armor; clad therewith you are completely shielded from the attacks of error of every sort. And not only yourselves are safe, but all whom your thoughts rest upon are thereby benefited.'' n2
n2 The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 210. THow vital it is for each one to rule destructive criticism out of his own thinking and also resolve any conflicts he might have with others. Christ Jesus gave us the Golden Rule for harmonizing relationships: ''All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.'' n3
n3 Matthew 7:12.
As individuals better understand God and the brotherhood of man, the barriers that divide mankind will progressively be broken down, and the voices of criticism will diminish. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Let all...clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another. Ephesians 4:31, 32