Instead of condemning people, let's try to understand them. Let's try to figure out why they do what they do. That's a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism, and it breeds sympathy, tolerance, and kindness. To know all is to forive all.
Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain-- and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.
Criticism is futile because it puts the person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous because it wounds a person's precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment.
Every time you kick ‘Mormonism’ you kick it upstairs; you never kick it downstairs. The Lord Almighty so orders it.
All of us need critics. That's what keeps us on our toes.
This has been the history of this Church, my young friends, and I hope we will never forget it. It came as a result of the position of leadership which was imposed upon us by the God of heaven who brought forth a restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And when the declaration was made concerning the only true and living Church upon the face of the earth, we were immediately put in a position of loneliness, the loneliness of leadership from which we cannot shrink nor run away and which we must face up to with boldness and courage and ability. Our history is one of being driven, of being winnowed and peeled, or being persecuted and hounded. Recently we have experienced a new wave of criticism, as many of you know.
I go back to these words of Paul:
We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed. [2 Corinthians 4:8–9]
Criticism, faultfinding, evil speaking—these are of the spirit of the day. To hear tell, there is nowhere a man of integrity holding public office. All businessmen are crooks. The utilities are out to rob you. Even on campus there is heard so much the snide remark, the sarcastic jibe, the cutting down of associates—these, too often, are the essence of our conversation. In our homes, wives weep and children finally give up under the barrage of criticism leveled by abusive husbands and fathers. Criticism is the forerunner of divorce, the cultivator of rebellion, sometimes the catalyst that leads to failure. In the Church, it sows the seed of inactivity and finally apostasy.
I come to you tonight with a plea that we stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight. I am suggesting that as we go through life we try to "accentuate the positive." I am asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we still our voices of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment virtue and effort. Now I am not asking that all criticism be silenced. Growth comes of correction. Strength comes of repentance. Wise is the man or woman who can acknowledge mistakes pointed out by others and change his or her course.
What I am suggesting is that you turn from the negativism that so permeates our modern society and look for the remarkable good among those with whom you associate, that we speak of one another’s virtues more than we speak of one another’s faults, that optimism replace pessimism, that our faith exceed our fears. When I was a young man and was prone to speak critically, my wise father would say: "Cynics do not contribute. Skeptics do not create. Doubters do not achieve."
Critics hang around and wait for others to make mistakes. But the real doers of the world have no time for criticizing others. They're too busy doing, making mistakes, improving, making progress.
Children have more need of models than of critics.