A critic is most useful, most valuable, most helpful when they offer solutions to the problems they address. A year or so ago I read Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin (before it joined the ranks of books Hollywood has destroyed), and this passage has stuck with me ever since:
“Neither a city nor a civilization can be run by its critics. Critics can neither build nor explore. All they do, really, is say yes or no—and complicate it.”
I’m a critic. Skeptical by nature, I regularly criticize my industry, those I feel are responsible for its many shortcomings, business leaders, media outlets incessantly spewing garbage…the list goes on. While I have no problem critiquing practices, rules, or actions, I do my best to offer solutions or alternatives. That effort, I believe, is what separates destructive and constructive critics, critics who complicate things from those who solve problems.