Yesterday I preached about “The Lego Movie.” For the record, I didn’t enjoy the movie. It made a ton of money at the box office, and three more LEGO-branded films are set to hit theaters in the next four years. So what do I know?!?
The general theme of the computer animated adventure comedy is that heroes are ordinary people (or Lego people) who use their unique gifts courageously. That is a great point, and I hope the kids who loved the movie believe that principle.
I loved playing with Legos as a kid, but I had two younger brothers who could never let what I built stand for long. They weren’t being mean, but watching something tall crash to the ground was just too much temptation.
In adulthood, we seem to apply that to one another. It seems impossible to resist the great temptation to bring others down. Criticizing or critiquing others is an art form that most of us have perfected. The problem is it is also an addiction. We start simply, joking about another person’s quirks, but then those quirks become flaws, and soon those flaws accumulate, and, before you know it, the person is disqualified from our lives.
They may never even know we feel that way about them; heck, they may not even know who we are! We are perfectly capable of doing this to strangers or public figures. Our cycle of critique/criticism is very costly, and, while it sometimes hurts the one we are knocking down, it mostly hurts us.
In my experience, once we start this cycle and invite others into it, the inevitable result will be a loss of our ability to see the good and, therefore, we can never have an enjoyable relationship with the subject of our critique. We become unable to see the good they do, or how often we actually agree with them. They become the other, and something in us is stimulated by being able to tear them down. We aren’t being mean, but the end result isn’t any different.
I’m not sure if we can change our ways. The addiction to being life’s critic is a strong one. Perhaps, starting today, we might try swallowing as much of the negative as we can and bless those we start to criticize. Maybe we could use our Legos to build up rather tear down.
Rev. Michael Piazza