The authority of a critic stems from his assumed position as a person with extensive knowledge on the subject over which he criticizes. However, scholars will tell us that criticism is largely instinctive, borne out of human being’s natural inclination to show preference when presented with works of art (see A. Ford: Origin of Criticism). I think we can agree that a huge component of criticism is its one-sidedness. Whether a kind or cruel response, criticism involves a pedestal for the critic and a lowly seat for the creator, yet the latter put effort into his art.
Before we get into a winded philosophical debate on criticism, let me explain what prompted this post. Here at AfCiC, we are in the service of assistance. Helping children; helping them via their parents, schools, communities and churches. It is help we are happy and proud to give. It is help that is given partly because it is our responsibility and partly from an understanding that the condition of the children in our society is a reflection on us. Nelson Mandela put it better, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”
We often become the mouthpiece for these children, our children. And part of such privilege includes speaking to others; ensuring that the issues and solutions to these issues are shared. Standing on one end of the conversation, it feels like we are critics inundating you with our plentiful information and shaming you into action. I had begun the post today with a comment on our school feeding program. There is a public school (Karibaribi primary school) which sits in the middle of an affluent neighbourhood, surrounded by great looking homes and churches, yet its students, many from disadvantaged homes, spend days hungry. Which is why I began the post with musings on criticism. But I will tell you why this is different; it is different because we too feel overwhelmed at times. It feels like there is a lot of ill in the world and not enough time and resources to protect our children from these dangers. What rejuvenates us, is the joy in saving one. Seeing one child in school, two children safe from the streets, five children enjoying a meal in school; these small but large victories offer heady hope that nothing else can.
This is the take-away, ‘I am only one, I cannot do everything, but I can do something, therefore I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do – Edward Everett’. (thanks Nellius for the quote)