Sunday, 17 September 2017

ET TU, CAESAR?


Criticism speaks German, and theology speaks Latin. Those were the words of a wise man, and to that I will say no wonder latin 'died', and the man who abhors criticism 'dies' with Latin. The above topic is misleading as it turns the actual circumstances of that historical event on it's head. The ides of March 44BC, the Roman Senate: time and place, Caesar was ambushed and killed by a group of Roman Senators among whom was the trusted Junius Brutus. While the men took turns at knifing Caesar, Caesar retained a little strength to utter the actual question, 'Et Tu, Brutus?...'  He was shocked at Brutus's betrayal and used his last words to convey his disappointment. Criticism allows us to experiment with possibilities, so we can direct some questions to Caesar here. Was Caesar the perfect gentleman hero and Brutus the evil conspirator villain that on first read anyone would believe them to be? What could have prompted a group of Roman Senators to conspire against Julius Caesar? Why would Caesar want to continue his climb to tyranny in a republic? Now why would Caesar neglect the warnings of his wife's dream or the warning 'beware the ides of March? When we try answering these questions we would see that Caesar might have been as guilty as any of those conspirators in the general scheme of things. Now, what if Caesar had made room for criticism, for open disagreement? It is almost impossible to have a man whom you make prostrate to you stand in your face and speak truth to power. What is worse? When we feed the sycophancy of associates to our ego truth becomes treason. Caesar certainly might not have understood this.
Criticism takes no prisoners, it is raw, uncut and goes for the nails head. To give it a more human face, we have come up with 'constructive criticism', but I believe criticism is criticism, the criticized is the one to process the criticism into either construction or destruction. Far above whatever gains one can construct from the words of a critic, I suggest a more rewarding exercise: critical self-examination, and it is for it that Caesar has become our distinguished specimen. The creator of Game of thrones George R R Martin in his Al Jazeera interview said that every villain thinks himself the true hero of the story, and I stretch it to say that every man thinks himself right in contentious situations. Remember the heat of the moment, yes, that moment you know you are right and everyone else is wrong. You try to make them understand your point of view, which at that moment is the only thing you consider truth and wisdom but they wouldn't listen. Remember when you finish that project, and you are happy with yourself. Yes, there are a few discontentment here and there from 'haters' and 'enemies of progress' but you wave it off because they won't block your shine, the Lord has shamed your enemies. Your single drops, hommies are celebrating your song, but here comes a guy who says the auto tune wasn't good and that you lacked technicality. Yes, your face turns red and you order the bouncer to work. Two suplexes later and the hater is outside the door writhing in pains. In all of these you could only be right and others either loyal to your rightness or wrong, unwise and plain stupid. Now that is the extent I can tolerate you smug contentment. The truth is you may be wrong, very wrong, that is if there is a gradation of wrongness. And if you are not one to entertain dissenting views and outright straight-out-of-the-oven criticism, you may continue in your arrogant ignorance till the end. When people criticize you in public, it's like having your throat cut open in the public and that huge bloody pride removed, or having people box that 'neck goita' into your belly. It takes some work to swallow your pride. Critical self-examination on the other hand might not take place in the public, it requires Caesar sitting down in the comfort of his home and reviewing his life, views and perspectives. It requires Caesar putting himself in the position of those he considers 'haters', and wondering (in their positions) why he would object to Caesar's views. It requires Caesar saying 'Et tu, Caesar?' to every wrong he finally realizes he has done rather than trying to justify them. At the end of a critical Self-examination, Caesar comes out in the public a better man. It does not mean that one must abandon all or even any of his former views, he might abandon some or all or retain some or all or even refine and redefine them. At the end it is a win-win situation. So, dear Caesar, you want to get started? Just swallow your pride and imagine you are wrong.


5 comments:

  1. Criticism is everyone's bane. We are both its champions and victims but perhaps it needn't be so. What if we simply took it in stride?

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  2. One of the things I noticed in life is that those who criticize others a lot, do not like to be criticized,being moderate is safe. Also at some point we will all understand that when the teacher takes the students work to mark, what the teacher does is to critique the student's work. Lastly, governments should be glad that opposition does exist. They tell you things that friends are too scared to say.

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  3. OPPOSITION IS A SACRED OFFICE, IF U KEEP SILENT, U DESECRATE THE SANCTITY OF THIS OFFICE.... However one must learn to oppose with reason and humility, and equally welcome it when it comes.

    nice piece Okwy!!

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