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“Before criticizing a man, walk a mile in his shoes”

When a small town boy leaves his hometown to pursue his higher studies, loads of aspirations go with him. These aspirations are not only his – it has been the dream of his father who took a loan to fund his coaching for the IIT’s preparation, a mother who dreams of his son bringing her a saree after getting placed, a brother who thinks of joining one of the IIT’s soon after he joins, taking the necessary guidance for the preparation. The whole community feels proud of this boy when he makes it to the rank list – thinking that if this boy can do it, their son can too. Everyone except from some stray elements. These are the ones who now realize that this guy doesn’t deserve this seat.

They shout all around the colony how he had cheated in the exam, how he belongs to a particular reserved category and hence got the seat, how he didn’t deserve it because he was a weaker student than their son. Little do they realize that it requires sheer hardwork to crack it through, little do they realize that it costed him those kilos he gained while sitting and preparing on the chair the whole day calculating those sums, little do they realize that he didn’t play holi for preparing for the next test while their son was was roaming around with colors in his palms. Little do they realize that getting that “reserved seat” required hard work too.  They certainly needed to take a walk in his shoes before criticizing him- at least a mile ahead.

So the question arises WHY? Why do we criticize people? Is it a human nature, or a characteristic of a self that is inherited due to our surrounding? Is it really natural to criticize someone? What are the reasons we criticize someone? Shouldn’t we look forth, ahead on time or may back in time to understand the context of his misery, ideology, self belief, that we criticize it too often too soon? Let us look into the different aspects and reasoning behind this nature of ours.

One aspect of criticizing someone is being judgmental. We live in a society that judges the well-off and that judges the poor. The society- to an extent-is always judgmental. Now is it worth judging someone after a short span, maybe a meeting or so? Of course not! During our graduation, we judge the people who come from a small town. We judge him for his shaggy clothes and his “native tone”. The act of criticism being our way of “backbitching” about him, certainly not on his face because we consider him of a different league altogether. But do we realise that maybe he comes from an extremely poor background, that maybe the money we spend for a time of dinner in a fine dine- he spends only that much for the whole month as his pocket money? There must be some reason he doesn’t buy new clothes, that he doesn’t celebrate his birthdays, that he doesn’t eat out except for the college mess. Little do we try to know why he got this “tone” of his- maybe this was the first time he was out of his village.

We live in a patriarchal society. A society which judges a single mother for being single, without his husband, and also being judgmental to her meeting with a male who takes her to dinner on weekends. But do we try to walk a mile in her shoes before criticizing her of not abiding to the “social norms” as they say it. Maybe he lost her husband who was fighting for the country on the border, or maybe his husband was an unsocial sociopath who beat her up and hence she being an independent women decided to part her ways. Maybe she has her aspirations too and hence she doesn’t rely solely on her husband giving her concessions, may be she is meeting that new male because she has realized that he may keep her happier and also look after her child.

A different aspect of criticizing is when our ideologies don’t match. A right winger liberal capitalist type may criticize a left winger socialist who revolts and compels the government for the freebies- the food people are denied of, the education they are deprived of- just because they cannot afford it. It’s easy to say that he doesn’t wish to work and that he is being a “pseudo-socialist”, but may be he has been through all this struggle himself. Maybe he was denied the job he deserved as the industrialists had took away his land promising him the growth. Maybe he had to go through the same plight that the people he is fighting for now are going through.

Different case studies show how the negligence and radicalization of the youth that takes place have been subject to mass inattention and laxity. We judge how terrorist are from a particular religion, but we never see what was the reason he left the country and joined a terrorist organisation, only to get killed sometime after. Same goes for the naxalis.

Another type of criticism is when we criticize someone even though we cannot do the same work we are criticizing him/her for. When Yuvraj Singh couldn’t perform in the WT20 worldcup final against Srilanka back in 2014, people criticized him for not being able to finish the match for the country. They threw stones at his house and criticized him. Most of the people who criticized him are those who mustn’t have even played a match in their locality’s corridor! Did we ever think how the guy, who had won it for the country not once but twice, must have felt after this loss? We cannot judge someone, for something we are not an expertise in. There must be some untold reasons and scenarios that he/she couldn’t perform.

The fourth type of criticism is when we “criticizing without realizing the inclusive role”. For example, we may have heard people criticizing the government being an impotent in bringing in change through Swacch Bharat Abhiyan(SBM). Now, little do we realize that the government has already done his work by spreading awareness about importance of cleanliness, it requires the effort of all the individuals combined to make it a success. Criticism won’t do the work, working against the criticism would!

The fifth type of criticism is giving someone a “destructive” or “demoralizing” criticism. These are those people who know that they cannot perform better than someone and criticize the other only to demoralize them. Leave alone walking in their shoes, they already KNOW that they can win the game only by using the tricks of crook. We must try to ignore such type of people and their criticism. But won’t we get the same kind of people everywhere? We should rather skim through the good points of his criticism, the ones that can make us better and convert his destructive criticism into a “constructive” one.

We create bubbles in which we allow ourselves to settle into a comfort zone. When we are criticized, the illusion of this bubble is burst as we are forced to acknowledge that reality is far different to the world we have been inhabiting. Different people lash out in different ways, but these are varying responses to the same problem.It is only by forcing ourselves out of our comfort zones and accepting our limitations that we can learn to deal with criticism better.

Different people have different perspectives. The idea should be not to criticize someone, but instead walking in each other’s shoes, putting each other in the rival’s place, looking into all the positives and negatives, and coming up with a consensus that may be a win-win situation for all the stakeholders.

What further needs to be done? We should realize that being critical or giving a critical note to someone also wants us to expertise in that subject. Even if we aren’t an expert, the criticism should be a rational one and not because you have been asked for a criticism. We need to make sure we haven’t missed an aspect ourselves before concluding about someone or his/her something. Before we criticize a women who couldn’t abort her girl child, we should realize that she has developed a bond with her, before criticizing the government for being incompetent of implementing SBM, we need to put the wrapper we threw on the road into the dustbin,before judging the cricketer, we need to ask ourselves “Did he really want to loose himself?” , before judging someone of his clothes, we need to realize it wasn’t by “choice” but helping him would be our choice.

Philosophy Tuber

  • Hi Serious,
    Very good essay it is. No critics for today. Your concept of various reasons for criticizing others is perfect. You explained the examples-though few, but in depth. That’s the plus point.
    Read your essay twice to find something- but couldn’t 😛
    So, this time you are back in your spirits. Keep it up. KWAI 🙂
    One thing I want to ask is, how much time do you take to write essays, including the draft?

    • Thank you so much Isha for ur review. I seriously couldn’t believe no criticism from u 😀

      I take around 2 hours to write it on paper. Then posting it here takes a lot of time.
      Tune nai likha ?

      • hehe..Sahi me, critics bohot deti main 😛
        Haan aaj nahi likha. Thod backlog tha, wahi complete kar rahi thi.

  • Mr. Serious
    I must say this one of your best performance till now 🙂
    very good connection of examples and good use of philosophical part.. not gs after long time 😛
    very nice.. theme of giving different interpretations was a fresh read for me.. thanks for enlightening !
    keep up (Y) 😀

  • hey nitish .. a very good read ..one of the best ..lots to learn from u on the philosophy part .. all i could find was few grammatical errors .. and yes one more thing ..the paragraph on terrorists .. i dont think this should be mentioned here ..may go against you .. coz no examiner would expect u to walk in some terrorist’s shoes ..no matter what resorting to violence is always wrong .. so apart from that all is great ..keep writing and enlightening 😀

    • Thank you Namrata! I’ll refrain from using that point in the exam 🙂

  • Hello Nitish bhai, my views:
    1)Liked the way you kept the two strands together-why we criticize and walk a mile
    2)Flow in your essay can be improved. Fourth and fifth type of criticism-are they really 4th and 5th types? Further, using the expression of fourth and fifth made it a bit repetitive
    3)All dimensions well covered. Though the intentions behind including ‘terrorist’ part is good but it will strengthen the case that one is always driven by external circumstances and there is no choice
    4)Conclusion became a para for suggestion
    Having discussed these criticisms, you must have realized that one should focus on positives of criticism, so I guess whatever be the reasons for which you stopped writing essay on insights, it is time to revert back. Hope you got my point (mai b kya bol rha hu jisne point dia use he kh rha hu 😀 )
    Overall, it was very good, couldn’t think if this essay could have been written in this manner. Keep it up 🙂

    • Thank you Palash! I’ll start writing again on insights after sometime 🙂

  • Bhai I was waiting soo long for this type of essay, padhke aatme ki tripti ho gayi, simply brilliant 🙂
    little do they realize that it costed him those kilos he gained while sitting and preparing on the chair the whole day calculating those sums. little do they realize that he didn’t play holi for preparing for the next test while their son was was roaming around with colors in his palms.—-humuor mein chhupa massage , I can relate that 😉
    Criticism won’t do the work, working against the criticism would!—(Y)
    Intro, conclusion, flow, simplicity, content, everything is perfect, no scope for criticism
    Keep writing such gems 🙂
    Thanks !

  • Nitish hats off to you for writing such a decent piece ,loved the flow ,content and the way you categorized different types of criticism and did complete justice with the explanation part.How aspirations and expectations are too responsible for it,you different dimensions are worth to read………. An awesome read Nitish … keep it up!!
    But one question how are you able to clarify the picture regarding a girl’s perspective..so well……. aaj kal ke boys aisa soch saktein hain vishwas nahi hota… 🙂
    ……….

    • Hey Jaya! Thank you so much for ur kind words 🙂

      I have this very important and influential person in my life who changed my perspective on these things… Maybe it’s her mindset, I am just giving words to it 🙂