I am a nerd. A geek.
One of my all-time favorite books on my bookshelf is Edward Tufte's volume titled "Visual Explanations." Between its hardback covers is a brilliantly executed argument for the method one uses to process data into information so that it impacts its audience with the desired effect, conveys the proper sense of urgency.
It was given to me by my engineer of a father about seven years ago, and hands-down the best tangible gift I've received from that source. It triggered a realization that it is not enough to have a legitimate grievance, a valid argument, or stand in the right. If you are going to challenge the perspectives or perceptions of others, you as a human being have a responsibility to your fellow human being to present an alternative, and to do so in a coherent, rational manner that conveys your information effectively and succinctly.
If one simply criticizes, especially in an emotionally charged manner or environment, it is often perceived as attack -- especially by those who have had a lifetime of experience with attack. Criticism becomes triggering. Criticism is often the label applied to justify bullying behaviors, though they may not be understood to translate as such. Being perceived as a bullying individual does nothing to further the validity of one's grievance. To the contrary, it actually undermines any chance of one's stance and argument being accepted and addressed.
Criticism is not the same thing as a critique. One contributes to the problem, the other to a solution.
A critique is constructive criticism. It is the art of analysis and evaluation, applied in a fashion designed to encourage improvement and growth in ensuing evolutions.
The two words are so similar, but like so many others in the English language, they are not interchangeable:
n. comments that show you think something is wrong or bad.
v. to express an opinion after examining and judging carefully and in detail.
n. a careful written examination of a subject that includes the writer’s opinions
For the majority of individuals, discussions of labels and their interpretations -- be they related to ethnicity, race, gender, orientation, religion, or any other aspect of one's identity -- will be emotionally charged. And thus, to criticize related behavior instead of critiquing the approach used in a given situation or circumstance is decidedly a contribution to the problem instead of a solution. Because the problem is a lack of perspective, a lack of awareness, a lack of comprehension or insight. And attacking -- whether deliberate, inadvertent, or perceived -- is far from constructive to improvement or positive growth.
One would assume, of course, that improvement of the situation is what one strives for in bringing the issue to light. As such, the intelligent and responsible human being does so in a rational fashion that optimizes the potential for the desired result.
Perpetuating intolerance, hate, and negative perceptions through careless criticism contributes to the problem. And an individual who fails to grasp their responsibility to their fellow human being has not yet grasped their impact. We are each capable of tilting the world on its axis. We are each, secretly, endowed with superhero abilities. We are, each of us, in possession of a key that can trigger a global revolution.
Will you use yours for positive change, or negative?