One of the great things to have happened to our generation is being taught to critique.
Schools and Universities, and history, have shown us that we shouldn’t always immediately believe what we are told, but we should test it and consider it against other facts. It has helped us to make informed, wise decisions.
However, we have become so good at critiquing and it has become such an automatic response to everything we see and hear, that it is also possibly one of the greatest detriments to our generation. Rather than being blinded to truth because of deception, we are now blinded to truth because of our own inability to accept it.
There have always been those who are unable to accept truth because they do not desire to see it. Yet now we have a curious problem at hand where those who genuinely desire to know truth and goodness find it hard to do so because our society has ingrained criticism into us. We have lost the ability to accept truth when it is spoken to us, and to meditate on words of knowledge and wisdom, because our immediate response is to come up with a list of what information is missing.
This is not necessarily a bad thing to do, if you have been trained to do it well. The issue at hand is that people have been taught how to critique information without first being taught how to receive it, ponder it, and accept it. After someone has shared a hard-hitting fact or idea (often one that makes us uncomfortable), we are too busy focusing on what hasn’t been said, rather than what has been said – and so any truth that was in their statement is overlooked, unheard, and ineffective.
I have come to know that there is a time to hold my tongue and accept what has been said or taught, even if I don’t agree with it or it makes me uncomfortable. Meditating on it and genuinely appreciating the truth or goodness in it as I come to my own conclusion is fundamental to wisdom and knowledge. But there is also a time to speak up, debate, and (hopefully) teach others.
When it is time to speak and teach, if we cannot do so in humility, graciousness and understanding, perhaps we are not actually seeking or appreciating truth after all, but acting in pride and error. There are very occasionally times when it is necessary to rebuke evil with more force or zeal than usual, but I urge even myself before others to be very careful and very, very prayerful when assuming our positions in these times.
If this has spoken to you, let me challenge you to intentionally refrain from publicly voicing your disagreement with something you’ve seen for two weeks. When you do see something you disagree with, instead of listing all the reasons it’s wrong or not quite right, take time to meditate on it. Perhaps ask yourself these questions:
- Why is it that I don’t agree with this? What are my deep inner convictions, beliefs, fears, insecurities, knowledge and experiences that cause such a strong reaction to this?
- Can I see the truth, however hidden, in this?
- If in fact they are right, what implications would there be to my worldview, and how must I respond?
- (If you are a Christian) Do I trust that God, in the end, is in control and will right the wrongs of this world?