One of the saddest things I see online every day is how little we are able to appreciate anything. I noticed it during the NBA Finals when instead of being floored by the performance of LeBron James, a huge number of people were critical of his shot selection and lack of “efficiency.” Never mind that he was carrying an injury-laden Cleveland Cavaliers team to the brink of a championship. I saw it again this week in the release of Harper Lee’s first novel in 55 years, Go Set a Watchman. Rather than being thrilled, people wanted to play the literary critic. Never mind that she wrote one the best American novels in history. During Tuesday’s Major League Baseball All-Star game I saw as many tweets criticizing the “boring” game as reveling in the remarkable depth of talent on the two teams. We are a nation of critics, and it’s to our own detriment.
We would rather find fault than find pleasure: LeBron is no Michael Jordan. Go Set a Watchman is no To Kill a Mockingbird. The All-Star Game was better back in the day. Do we even realize that such criticisms are practically compliments? Being less than a legend doesn’t make someone or something bad. And it leaves plenty of room for appreciation.
Twenty-four-hour analysis fuels our criticism. To feed the media machine, controversy must be drummed up, and what better way to do it than through criticism?
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Wouldn’t it be better if we made a point to look for greatness, or even just goodness? What if we could train our eyes and minds to see it in a moment, a game, a swing, a shot, a sentence, a week, a day. Then we wouldn’t take 20 years to appreciate the remarkable. History will always grant context and clarity, but why must we wait for history all the time? Why can’t we take joy in greatness now?
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