Being Critical

Being Critical

“If you have no will to change it, you have no right to criticize it” – Mark Twain

People who know me well know that while I can be critical of others, I am most critical of myself. I have always believed that as an entrepreneur and leader, the ball is always in my court. If I find fault in others, that’s only because I want to find ways I have trained insufficiently, planned wrongly and implemented weakly. After all, the best soldiers are only as good as the weakest of generals.

In the current highly charged political climate of this country, we find more and more criticisms and critical people. The prevalence of the internet and social media means we have access to more information and in real time.

However, this also means we have more differing opinions and points of views to contend with. As a result, no government policy is entirely correct, nor any religious, economic or social view acceptable to all. There’s always a descending view and critic for every new and old policy and comment.

In an education system that encourages dissenting views and intellectual discourse, this development can only be good, as it cultivates acceptance of differences, encourages innovation and advance our knowledge as a society.

Unfortunately, in our spoon-feeding education system, many of us grew up being told that authority is always right and to challenge the authority is an unacceptable social behaviour. As we grew older, and are exposed to the opposite of that view – that the establishment is wrong and that all ills in our society is the result of a corrupt, inefficient government – we become highly critical and anti-establishment.

This deprival of a middle ground and of critical thinking and analysis is highly polarising. So deep is this divide that we often criticise for the sake of criticising. Take the GST for example: many of us have made up our mind that this new form of tax is evil, and that any additional revenue made by the government would go towards corruption. How do we know that for a fact? Most probably from some political seminars and Facebook.

As entrepreneurs and leaders, we need to consider how this could harm not just our country and the economy; it will have long term repercussions on our own businesses and families. By adopting a win-all or lose-all world-view, we are effectively painting the world in black and white: blinding us to the merits that each policy has.

We need to see things from a neutral position, and to accept that no policy nor government is perfect. More importantly, if we see a flaw in one, we need to work towards correcting that flaw by engaging with the overall policy. And that means participation and support, instead of arm-chair criticism. Mahatma Ghandi, in all his wisdom, summed it up nicely: be the change you want to see in this world.

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