Criticize by Creating

“Self Portrait” by Michelangelo

“I criticize by creating something beautiful.” (attributed to Michelangelo)

I really like this quote, shared in a recent sermon by Evertt Huffard, dean of the Harding School of Theology, my alma mater.  In a world filled with things we do not like, cannot stomach, and want to rage against, how can we best criticize? Some of us rush in like a bull in a china shop busting through the thoughts and behaviors of which we do not approve.  Others quietly stir up a tempest in a teapot as we tear down in our conversations a position or philosophy or lifestyle.  Others broadcast attack ads.

I love the idea that one can criticize something indirectly by throwing one’s efforts into creating an opposing object of beauty.  Confrontation doesn’t have to come head on.  The weaknesses and ugliness of something don’t have to be picked apart.  Create something attractive, and people walk away from something else.  Draw people into some constructive, and energy is turned away from the destructive.  Support with enthusiasm the good, and the silent message is that opposite is unacceptable.

I am not sure it works in all situations, but in a world full of shouting, tearing down, and compounded negativity I like this idea.