Aesop on Criticism

Manila Bulletin, October 31, 2004 | Go to article overview

Aesop on Criticism


ONE of Aesops fables which many of us are familiar with since our childhood days is Aesops fable on criticism. I am reproducing Aesops fable on criticism because today, criticism and censure (which are not pleasing everybody) are all around us.

* * *

Aesops fable on criticism is about an old man and his son bringing a donkey to market. Let me quote the story: "Passing some people on the way, they hear one remark, "Look at that silly pair walking when they could be riding comfortably." The idea seemed sensible to the old man, so he and the boy mounted the donkey and continued on their way. Soon they passed another group. "Look at that lazy pair," said a voice, "breaking the back of that poor donkey, tiring him so that no one will buy him." The old man slid off, but soon they heard another criticism from a passerby: "What a terrible thing, this old man walking while the boy gets to ride." They changed places, but soon heard people whispering, "What a terrible thing, the big strong man riding and making the little boy walk." The old man and the boy pondered the situation and finally continued their journey in yet another matter, carrying the donkey on a pole between them. As they crossed the bridge, the donkey broke loose, fell into the river, and drowned."

* * *

How should we respond to criticisms leveled against us? There are people around us who are good in criticizing others. Should we tolerate them to "peck" us to death with their criticisms? Or should we ignore criticisms hurled against us? There are just so many people who possess the gift of criticism and who take pride and joy in practicing this gift. Like Lucy of the Peanuts cartoon fame. Lucy is well-known for her critical spirit and caustic comments. On one occasion Lucy told Charlie Brown: "You are a foul ball in the line drive of life." Linus with his security blanket in place and his thumb resting safely in his mouth turns to Lucy and he asked: "Why are you always so anxious to criticize me?" The response was typical Lucy: "I just think I have a knack for seeing other peoples faults." Exasperated, Linus threw up his hands and asked: "What about your own faults?" Without hesitation, Lucy explained, "I have a knack for overlooking them." Lucy is like many of us. Fast in pointing out the weaknesses of others but blind to their own shortcomings.

* * *

The phrase "pecked to death" has been coined because of a peculiar habit of turkeys. Turkey experts say that when a turkey is wounded and has a spot of blood on its feathers, the other turkeys will "peck" at that spot until they literally peck the wounded turkey to death. Can you believe any animal would be so cruel and stupid as to keep pecking at the wound of another? Like turkeys, many people go home at night "pecked to death."

* * *

Lets go slow in criticizing others. …

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