July 24     

Today's quotation:

It requires no thought, no consideration, no character, no talent to be a fault-finder. . . . It is much easier to find fault than to find ways to help.  How easy to be critical and how hard to be correct.  How easy to find fault with others and how hard to mend our own ways.

Fred Van Amburgh

Today's Meditation:

It's so easy to find fault in others and the things they do and the things they say.  And sometimes, it's important to do so because we learn a lot about who they are and whether we can trust them, what we can expect of them, whether or not they should be working for us or with us.  But sometimes our tendency to find fault becomes a habit that can blind us to the positive sides of other people, and that usually doesn't turn out well for anyone involved.

As a writing teacher, for example, one of my jobs is to find faults with my students' writing so that they can correct those faults and become better writers.  In fact, almost our entire educational system is designed around testing people to find out what kinds of mistakes they make, and then assigning grades based usually upon the number of mistakes.  But as a teacher, one of my most important tasks is to find my students' strengths, too, and to help them to develop those.  By focusing on strengths instead of faults, I help students much more than otherwise.

Our young people have grown up judging others and finding faults more than any other generation due to television.  They've "voted" people off stages and islands and out of houses after being encouraged to find the faults in certain contestants.  They're asked to evaluate others all the time, and the fault-finding patterns that they've developed often keep them from seeing the good and the beautiful in other human beings.  This is not a reality that they've asked for, but one that has been pushed upon them, and one that can definitely damage their chances for happiness and peace.

I don't ever want to stop being able to figure out what's wrong with something.  If a pie that I bake turns out awful, I need to be able to figure out what the problem was.  But I know that the problem is not that I'm a terrible baker (I'm pretty decent), but something that I did wrong in the process of making it.  One bad pie doesn't make me incompetent in the kitchen, and anyone who says it does is using one small fault to make a broad-- and invalid-- statement.  Let's look less for faults and more for the strengths and the beauty that surround us in the world.

Questions to consider:

How do we learn to become fault-finders?

Why do we often focus on the faults of others and not pay attention to our own?

What might happen if we were to commend others for their true strengths instead of criticizing them for their perceived faults?

For further thought:

The faults of others we see easily; our own are very difficult to see.  Our neighbor's faults we winnow eagerly, as chaff from grain; our own we hide away.


more on fault-finding



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