To an extent, we’re all critical of others. In fact, criticizing others is a treat few can pass up. Regrettably, criticism is actually our own ego adoring itself. Self-righteousness and righteous indignation give us such a sense of superiority that most of us cannot resist.
We always compare ourselves to others. Whether we’re aware of it or not, this is how we develop self-esteem. Therefore, the lower I view others, the higher I view myself. And if I can’t elevate myself, I will engage solely in lowering others. This is the reason for our tendency to patronize and belittle other people. Just as people once believed that the Earth is at the center of the universe, we, too, feel that we are the center of Creation this way, even if we don’t admit it to ourselves.
However, like all other inherently negative traits, we can turn criticism into a constructive force that brings a lot of good. Envy is a potent and tormenting emotion. When we see others succeed, it arouses in us both envy and fear for our position. Naturally, we will criticize them passionately. However, had it not been for envy, we would not have created civilization. Envy creates competition, and competition creates progress. If we understand this, we will realize that our own development depends on the development of others. The trick is to keep the envy and the competition balanced, and not go overboard, as is happening today.
Currently, our egos have grown to a point where they wish to destroy others. It is evident primarily in international relations, but if you consider the rising social tensions between ethnic groups, cultures, religions, and political views, it is clear that we are heading for a clash. The only way to prevent it is to realize that we are dependent on each other. Without the existence of the opposite view, my own view will become null and void. Moreover, we wouldn’t even think in the direction we are thinking now, since our view is a reaction to the opposite view.
Take Socialism, for example. Without Capitalism, the whole idea of Socialism would not have emerged, and the noble ideas about society it has contributed would never have appeared.
We therefore see that criticism, the progeny of the ego, is ruinous unless we realize that precisely thanks to the matter or the person being criticized, there is merit to our criticism and our own ideas. If we keep this in mind, criticism will lead to growth and prosperity. Otherwise, we’d better keep it to ourselves, for our own good.