“Do something! Don’t linger in your armchair (or dwell on your keyboard)! Wouldn’t it be more constructive to move away from rhetoric per se, and actually be involved? More importantly, how can you criticise and organisation you have never been part of?”
In essence, who are you to judge or complain if you’ve always been an outsider, they say.
The suggestion is, of course, problematic. It presupposes that change can only come from a government or management committee of sorts, when in fact movements can be galvanised independently. It assumes that institutions represent a higher form of service, when in fact one can contribute in meaningful ways regardless. And if one does accept this argument, then wouldn’t discourse be limited to a small group of stakeholders? In fact, there are occasions when institutionalisation – especially in a school – stifles progress and spontaneity.
Politics anywhere is a complex beast. Putting oneself up for nominations and votes takes a great deal of courage (which I do not possess), since you are constantly under public scrutiny. You need to have a certain disposition, and I just don’t have that (and never well). I avoid elections because I know I’d suck at it. People like me who whine, curse, moan, complain, and are tactless all the time will never emerge victorious in a popularity contest.
The trouble with criticism is that it makes us uncomfortable. Upset and unsettled. I should know, for I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been censured for being an ignoramus or a charlatan (and recently, a shoddy writer) on the Internet as a blogger-writer. Yet, once you move beyond that moment, you feel thankful: thankful that someone gives a damn – no matter how slight it might be – about what you are doing; thankful that you get to correct errors (here); and thankful that there is something one you can endeavour towards.
So embrace criticisms. It’s not easy, I’m still learning, but I’m convinced it’ll be well worth it.