It’s Too Easy To Be Destructive

I’m really getting fed up with the negativity and destructive commentary by our politicians, the media, bloggers and people everywhere.  It seems that our society really believes that “the more angry I seem and the louder I shout about my anger or the point I want to make, the more correct I am.”  

My mom and dad taught me that “if you don’t have anything good to say, then don’t say it at all.”  I don’t necessarily believe that fits all situations, but as a rule to live by its a pretty good one.

Earlier this week, there was a discussion posted on the ASSE Group site of LinkedIn, titled “Hit The Road, Jordan: OSHA’s New Head Brings Thuggishness to the Labor Department – Big Government.”  Thank goodness it’s since been taken down.  Maybe some of you saw it.  It called for Jordan Barab to resign as the interim head of OSHA (a bit dated wouldn’t you say) and proceeded with a long character assassination.  The young writer also spewed a great deal of misguided venum on what OSHA should do or should not, that indicated his lack of understanding of the Agency and its authority, et. al.  It is this person’s right to say or write what he wants, but I found the level of outrage and misrepresentation in the content of the article alarming. 

Regardless of your beliefs or political stance on the issues, this type of negativity leads nowhere.  Well okay, it leads to greater polarization.  I wondered if that’s what the ASSE Group member hoped would come from posting such and article.  Let’s hope not.  I responded with a comments like these:

It’s one thing to post a discussion that leads to thoughtful discord, and another to post a link to an article like this one. Not only is the writer significantly off with his timing, but his understanding of the authority of OSHA and the rule-making process leaves much to be desired. Respect his youthful passion, but smile at his naivete.

I read another commentary the other day in OHS Magazine written by Mike Hayslip, J.D., CSP, Executive Director of VPPAC. Mike talked about the various jobs he has held during his adulthood (including carpenter) and the perspective they provided. In discussing the political wrangling about OSHA that has been going on for most of his (and my) long career and will probably always be present, he reflected that (paraphrase) “Any carpenter with a sledge hammer knows that demolition goes fast, but using your tools correctly to build a structure of quality that lasts takes a long time.”

It’s my experience that removing negativity and anger from our discussions allows for more open communication and debate on the issues.  Thus, allowing more creative and constructive solutions to evolve.  Passion and emotion are good to have, so let’s use them to move our lives and society forward.

Constructive criticism is healthy, but commentaries like this one referenced here are like that sledge hammer. It’s easy to angrily criticize, shout and tear down. Providing thoughtful ideas and offering solutions is harder work!  Maybe we need to take a step back and become more like carpenters, using our tools to build a positive future together.