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What does it actually mean to be critical? The Merriam-Webster online dictionary says that being critical means being inclined to criticize severely and unfavorably, but also exercising or involving careful judgment or judicious evaluation. The Online Etymological dictionary says that the word critic derives from the Greek word kritikos, indicating someone who is “able to make judgments," which in turn derives from the word krinein, "to separate, decide, judge", with the base krei-, which means "to sieve, discriminate, distinguish".
Being critical therefore means, if one does not indulge her- or him-self merely into an empty and superficial expression of dislike, an attitude of careful analysis and evaluation from the part of one who is able to sieve and discriminate, to distinguish the seeds from the weeds, that is because she or he is capable of an insight.
There are critics, but not so many who do enjoy the privilege of an insight, and even less critics who at the same time feel an inner impulse, to help, because they do care. This is most certainly the main attitude which should distinguish a Theosophical critic from a regular one. In particular, Hippocrates and Galen used the word krisis to denominate the “turning point in a disease”, therefore a Theosophical critic should strive to operate like a physician who is able to come to a diagnosis, but who is at the same time able to cure.
We usually don't like critics, especially those who point at some of our deficiencies; but, honestly, there aren't any rational reasons present for such a dislike. Instead, we should thank them for indicating the reason for our troubles, and especially those who also indicate a solution.
In the Theosophical Society there are many members who are dedicated to the Society and the Theosophical work with the whole of their being, often to such an extent that they begin to identify themselves with the Society. Consequently, when some “unscrupulous” critic begins “to throw mud” they feel personally offended.
But why should it be so? The interest of the Society is not necessarily identical to their personal interest. Actually, the interest of the Society is far above all personal interests. The interest of the Society is the Society's health. Therefore, let us be attentive and welcome critics, especially those Theosophical critics who will help us to overcome our deficiencies.
Dedicated to the Theosophical critic K. H.
Last update: August 2009