Vail Valley Voices: Of what value is criticism? |

Vail Valley Voices: Of what value is criticism?

Dick Gustafson
Vail Valley Voices

Recently, I have received many supporting phone calls regarding someone who is having difficulty getting over an editorial I wrote about the myth that the “separation of church and state” is included as part of the Constitution. I must confess I have not read any of these critical articles, so I won’t discuss any specific comment from any letter. It is sufficient to say that the issue of “separation of church and state” is covered in neither the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights nor the Declaration of Independence.

The subject was only addressed, years later, in one letter written by Thomas Jefferson to answer the concerns of a Baptist minister. Any argument over the wording of his letter is off point and irrelevant, and I have no desire to be drawn into an academic discussion over the letter.

The real issue for me is, does a difference of opinion bother me? The basic answer is “no”! I couldn’t care less.

Why? Because criticism of me by someone I don’t know, nor may I care to know, has no value to me. Therefore, there is no effect.

For example: If a teenager wears a red shirt to school and a classmate says to him that he hates red shirts, the teen can:

One, trash his whole wardrobe (allowing the critic to control his life).

Or, two, not wear red around that person (respecting that person’s preferences).

Or, three, choose to ignore the whole incident and wear the shirt whether the critic is present or not (not allowing the critic’s opinion to control his feelings or his behavior).

The nature of criticism is that it has nothing to do with me at all. It is 100 percent information about the critic. He chooses to continue to express a contrary opinion, which he has the right to do, and I therefore have a choice:

One, to take his criticism as valuable and change my editorial opinion, stop writing editorials or vigorously defend my position.

Or, two, I can disregard the critic, his opinion of me and my opinions, be content in my research and choose to ignore it.

Since there is no relationship between me and the critic, nor is one likely to develop, I choose to ignore it. I choose not to be influenced by him nor allow his opinion to affect my life or the content of any future editorials in any way. Nuff said.

Dick Gustafson, of Vail, is a former Eagle County commissioner.

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