February 10, 2023- The little girl brought her drawing of a Minotaur to me, seeking approval. I told her, in all sincerity, that it was fantastic. Two dozen other drawings of mythological creatures, and the Parthenon, were presented to my appreciative eyes, over the course of the three-hour span. Even the ones I only saw when they were turned in, for the regular teacher to see, on Monday, were truly amazing. Every artist put his/her stamp on the work.
This meant that no two drawings were the same, and as I told one child, who was comparing her work unfavourably with her friend’s drawing, everyone is entitled to create, within their own mental framework and each of us tends to be our own worst critic. Her Achilles was just as good as her friend’s, because each of them was giving the best of themselves.
Days tend to have themes brought into my consciousness. A few hours after coming back to Home Base, I read a post by another friend, also a former student. He bemoaned the tendency of people in his home community to actively discourage those they encounter, at a community event, from doing activities, or ceremonies, in other than a prescribed manner. He pointed out that the primary definition of community is a group of people who support one another. In this vein, attacking, ridiculing or offering destructive criticism, of someone’s efforts is the opposite of community.
None of this means that we ought disregard someone’s own destructive acts. Lovingly preventing someone from carrying out an act of violence against self or others is imperative, if for no other reason than that the best that someone has to offer is off the table, when a negative path is chosen. That is true of perpetrator and victim alike.
It also doesn’t mean that no suggestions for improvement may be made. There is a path for that, offered by ‘Abdu’l-Baha, which validates a person’s opinion or method first, then offers “Have you considered the matter from this perspective?” A non-defensive mind can incorporate suggestions that are even at variance with one’s own set ways of thinking and doing.
In a universe where every word has one and seventy meanings, and there are ” a thousand ways” to do many tasks, isn’t it fair to step back and think of matters from several different perspectives?