On the Relative Merits of Criticism
This is always a pertinent question: how best to contribute, through words, to the reflection and collective progress of the community one is part of?
To be merely critical is obviously not sufficient; besides, it is a risky affair as, clearly, it is safer and more useful to practice severe and considered self-criticism, rather than gratuitously underlining collective failings while implying that one’s little person is immunized from those very traits one is pointing at: self-righteous sinners are, after all, a form of parasitism.
To be holding before one and all, at all times and in all circumstances, some glimmer, some sense, some vision of what must be, and to know how to discern and support what movements in oneself and in the others are turned in that direction, is more likely to be effective.
A problem remains, however: how come, in the daily weaving of our collective existence here, reference to our aims and ideals is treated with various shades of disbelief, from polite puzzlement to sheer cynicism?
How come every activity and almost every communication is mined with contradictions, in essence as well as in terms of behavior, and subjected to increasing complications and to convoluted justifications of our collective inability to live our commitments?
Everywhere nowadays and even here, polls, surveys and referenda are conducted in order to evaluate the pulse of the community, or its response to certain trends or orientations.
For instance, some years ago, a survey on what constitutes the prosperity of a people or a nation showed that Bhutan was the richest country of the world in that its people was the happiest; while a very recent survey showed that the French people stands amongst the most depressed and suicidal in today’ world.
Perhaps for its 40th birthday Auroville could run a survey of its own, to determine how far each of its present residents feels moved by a clear sense of purpose and progress in their lives?
When I went back to the Internet café, on February 1st, intending to send this note to the editors of the “AV News”, I found another message from them; this time, it was signed “Abha” and had quite a different tone; she wrote that there were many of “them” who appreciated my thoughtful notes and that they had only received one negative feed-back, which she had found quite insulting, both to them and to me, asking them how much they were getting paid to publish my pieces…! I wrote back, thanking her for sharing this jewel with me, and offered the note above as a response, indicating that she could publish it if and when she wished.
I returned to Auroville on February 14th.
I found that the note “On Borders and Companionship” had been published on the 9th.
The subsequent note “On the Relative Merits of Criticism” was published on the 23rd.