Accepting Criticism

It’s hard to accepted criticism. Everyone instinctively thinks they know everything and are right all the time, but the reality is not always the case. Ayn Rand submitted her manuscript for The Fountainhead 12 times before it was accepted by the Random House where the editor (Archibald Ogdeb) threatened to quit if the book was not published. She never once gave up her goal of being a writer nor did she blamed discrimination based on her Russian Jewish status or her sex. Despite her insistence on not changing the final copy of the draft, her original work was edited repeatedly for perfection, for instance she removed completely a character called Vesta Dunning who was supposed to be an early love interest for Howard Roark but was removing due to her similarities with Gail Wynand as “the woman who could be”. Despite those chapters involves Vesta Dunning were great literally, it was not suited for the romantic realistic aesthetic. Another edit was done on Ogden’s request to change the title of the book from Second Hand Lives to The Fountainhead which emphasised less on the villains. Criticism could be good, I certainly would not glanced the cover if it had a silly name like that.

N.B. The deleted chapters were a really good read, highly recommended to check it out if you enjoyed The Fountainhead. It can be found in Early Ayn Rand.

Thomas Sowell shared a similar story in his essay Minority College Students. Sowell grew up poor without all the comfort the poor in America had today, but that didn’t stop him from pursuing higher education. He always thought of himself as studious and that’s what others thought, but when he got to Havard his roommate once told him “Tom, when are you going to stop goofing around?” And he did get Ds and Fs that semester. That’s when he realised the importance of accepting the criticism and started to change his studying habits to keep up with the new demand. He did not cry racism when this occurred (this was the 60s), he did not demand special treatment, he didn’t drop out and give up. He learnt from his mistakes and succeeded. In another essay The New Racial Etiquette, he recalled how  when he was to present his research to fellow economists before being accepted to U.C.L.A, the other economists (all Caucasian) utterly “ripped him to shreds”. An African American woman in the audience was horrified and wrote a complaint to the department, it turns out the fellow economists loved Sowell, not only they hired him, they also gave him tenure at the same time. Criticism is not all that scary if they are honest.

The problem today is that criticism is no longer allowed. Why, any honest or empirical criticisms are seen as an attack on their character. The valuable advices we get from criticism when we were young is now labelled as “trauma” by the petulant psychologists and tyrannical social workers; criticisms received when we are adults are now labelled as “racism, homophobia, sexism, etc.” You name it, there is a word for it. Criticizing terrorist groups like Black Lives Matter (a.k.a. Racists lives matter) makes you are racist for opposing their racism; giving a child’s school work a bad grade makes you an “ableist”, the child need not to know right or wrong, he just needs to feel good to prevent “developing incorrect values”; speaking against the fat cats and corrupt politicians makes you a “conspiracy theorist” who wishes to “undermine” the “public interest”. 

N.B. Police brutality is terrifying but it happens to everyone which are never reported by the media nor do they get “response” from the White House. [1]

All the while “criticism” against the “privileged” is completely valid. For instance, University of Auckland offers courses that are simply a criticism of the existing education programme (it is also horrible) without teaching them how to teach students who may be the most disadvantaged by the current education system. Jews no longer get sympathy from their past suffering after achieving many success, despite being less than 1% of the total population and less than 5% in the US population or anywhere in the world except Israel, they no longer have the “minority” status. Anti semitism is becoming more accepted each day. Feminists likewise perpetrate mythical criticism on the other gender without any empirical evidences, the more extremes often go to the length of suggesting “kill all men” or “castrate all men” and get away with it by claiming “it’s a joke”. 

No one likes to hear criticism but criticism like competition helps us to improve ourselves or our products, stop crying and take it like an adult.


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