Monday, September 7, 2009

Who Am I Looking At?

When I walked with a friend recently, I found it rather depressing instead of fun, because he was criticizing what's going on in the world, and all the people in the world, whether local, national, or even international. It made the walk rather dreary.

After I got home, and was complaining to myself about how critical he was about everything, I suddenly had a moment of clarity in which I realized I had been critical even before he was. I had doubted his identification of a bird we spotted because, to me, the color appeared wrong for that particular bird. I hadn't even noticed that I was being critical.

How easy it is to blame other people for the same things we do! How much easier to pass judgment on something when somebody else does it than when I do it. It made me wonder how often I do that without knowing it. In the days since this realization hit me, whenever I've caught myself criticizing something, I've had to ask myself, "Am I saying something about me?" Sometimes I'm not, and sometimes I am. Yikes! It has made me painfully aware of how automatically I can turn the spotlight on someone else to keep it off myself.

Seeing my own shortcomings isn't necessarily a signal for self-flagellation, but rather, for being honest with myself about what I do. If I don't see it, I can't change it, and if it's something I dislike in others, I definitely want to change it. Again, it's the same old thing: I want to treat others the way I'd like to be treated. Will I ever learn? I hope so.


  1. Troy I, again have thought about what you have writen, and have not commented,right off. . . questioning myself. Am I very critical, or am I not? I know I am, of myself,and things like where I ought to be when I find myself. Ha! I find myself critical of Republicans all the time. I find myself critical of overly religious people. I find myself critical of critcal and judgemental people. There seems to be no scarcity of those things that do not agree with our fundamental ideals. Is there a Divine Order, a Sublime Order, inherent in the Universe? I don't know, but I don't see myself, being less critical at the moment,or at anytime too soon, about these certain issues. I guess by going at our own pace, learning to recognize our limitations and those of others and appreciating our progress, that we weave out daily moments,in time, add a certain fundametal apprecation and patience. Paula

  2. Thanks, Paula, for your ideas. Being less critical in the sense that I am using it, doesn't imply condoning what you don't agree with. It's about self examination and self honesty. Troy

  3. Troy—
    I really like your insights on this topic, especially the phrase, "automatically I can turn the spotlight on someone else to keep it off myself." Hypocrisy really is one of the most dangerous and destructive impulses in humans. My own blog includes lots of political diatribes and ideological criticism, but in my writing and in my life, I consciously and conscientiously try to avoid hypocrisy. As you point out, this is not an easy task.

    As a contribution to your most excellent post, I offer this original slogan, (of a number of aphorisms I have coined, this is the one of which I am most proud):

    "The Greatest Threat to Democracy is Hypocrisy! Seek Truth! Speak Truth!

    Thanks for your blog,

  4. Thanks for your interesting comments, Tim. It's hard indeed to see ourselves clearly. We seem to develop myopia when we try. Also, it raises the interesting question, "who is it that is looking?"