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PoliSciPundit

Cite your source

John

Please don't add to the pile of sayings attributed without reference to ancient authors like Aristotle.

Many on the web in fact attribute this one to Elbert Hubbard, but still without citation.

Please, quote responsibly!

W. C. Atlanta

Thanks! I needed that.

Bruce Post

I recently happened upon Fields' blog and am glad you shared his insight on criticism.

Aristotle evidently was prescribing a method for "avoiding" being criticized. (I agree: That in itself is worthy of much discussion.) Yet, as you can suspect, I also think that the "say nothing, do nothing, be nothing" philosophy reflects an attitude that inhibits people from making criticisms.

In my mind, criticism -- which too many people view pejoratively -- is an essential element of Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths & Total Nonsense. Way too many folks in positions of power and leadership actively dampen critical insights from their underlings, and we have plenty of evidence how that movie plays out. Subordinates, generally out of fear, stifle their critiques, which often might make a positive contribution -- if heeded. How many times have you heard someone rationalize their failure to make a critical observation by saying, "Well, they must know what they are doing?"

History is littered with disasters that might have been avoided had superiors, who obviously wanted to say something, do something, be something, not suppressed or discouraged active criticism from peers, employees or regulators. Think about the Titanic, the Bay of Pigs, Viet Nam, the Challenger disaster. Then again, today, right in front of our eyes, we have the perfidious financial system disaster and the on-going tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico.

Ultimately, our challenges are cultural, whether they be in a corporate culture, a political one or a socio-economic context. In that sense, we need less of Aristotle's prescription and more of Socrates': "The unexamined life is not fit to be lived by a human being."

David Hinde | Orgtopia

Hi Bob,
That's a great quote. It reminds me of another one I came across written on a shop window in London a few weeks ago.."Be who you are and say what you think, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind!"

Kind regards

David Hinde

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