A Friday Thought: Condemnation and the mallet

Condemnation can seem a terrible thing. Statements which condemn ideas, actions, people or whatever are almost wholly negative. Yet one of the things that is frequently condemned is failure on the part of others to speak a word of condemnation.

Examples of this can be seen all around us. In the recent escalation of violence between Israel and Palestine, those who favour one side point to those who favour the other, condemning them for failing to condemn the violent and deadly actions undertaken by the side that they favour.

One can try to be nice and fluffy and say that we shouldn’t speak words of condemnation against one another. I’ve tried it. It’s not easy and sometimes the most worthwhile things in life aren’t easy. The alternative is to try to only be positive. Propose alternatives and always seek to be constructive.

Yet my thought now is that the two approaches must go hand in hand. Condemnation is a necessary tool of destruction. Yet it should not be wielded alone. As a mallet is a blunt instrument which, by itself, can do nothing creative,   so condemnation by itself does little good. But when combined with a chisel of positive alternatives, then with some skill and practice it may be possible to carve something new and beautiful from the plank of wood we previously bashed furiously with the mallet.

The analogy may be muddled (as I write this on Thursday night, it’s been a long day) but I hope the gist isn’t lost in the metaphor.

It is easy to be harsh, to condemn, to put down, to criticise. Those things have their place. But when we break something down, it must be directed with a plan in mind for the new creation that is to emerge from the wreckage of the old.

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