Cynics - Faultfinders or Answer Finders?
"Are you cynical?' Elizabeth Peale Allen asked in The Good Life. 'It could land you in the Coronary Care Unit.' According to Dr. Redford Williams, an internist and behavioral medicine researcher at Duke University Medical Center, 'A cynical, mistrusting attitude is a driving force that makes people most susceptible to heart disease.' Of course any cynic worth his weight would dispute this research."
Our society has its fair share of cynics. Many are suffering from heart disease of a different nature. They are suspicious of others, doubters of other's character and, the detractor of all do-gooders. Many of them even pride themselves in their cynical thoughts and ways. Some are admired as too shrewd or cunning to be taken in by anyone with a hidden agenda or impure motives. The problem for many of these people is that everyone is suspect - if not outright guilty to begin with - except for them of course. It is odd, but often true, the one who lives to point out the hypocrisy and errors of others rarely sees the error of his own life.
Pride is often the hidden motive behind the words of a cynic. In every critical comment, in every attack on the integrity or intentions of others, there is the underlying belief that they are justified in their assessment because they are not that way or believe that they would not behave in such a way. In reality, cynicism is the thinly veiled act of passing judgment on others.
Cynics are faultfinders not answer finders. Yes, they believe that by exposing the errors of others that they help to bring about positive change. But do they? Or do they simply add to the growing attitude of distrust and faultfinding that seems to be prevalent today? For those outside of the community of faith my message may fall on deaf ears, but for those who seek to "do what Jesus would do" listen carefully.
Consider the words of Jesus on judging others, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." Matthew 7:3-5 NIV
We are rarely in a position of accurately judging the actions of others, but when we do we must remember that we only do so after we have made adjustments in our own lives to not be guilty of the same thing. In addition, it should be our intention to help the person in question.
The Apostle Paul writes, "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else..." Galatians 6:1-4 NIV
There is nothing intrinsically valuable or virtuous in being a cynic and a critic. Too many get caught up in tearing down the lives and influence of others around them so that they can feel better about themselves and the way that they are living. Certainly there is enough in the world to give us cause to be cynical. However, there is nothing of value to be gained by constantly focusing on the faults and failures of others. We want others to give us the benefit of the doubt. We want others to bear with us. We think others should trust our intentions. We are all flawed in some manner, yet when we work with and bear with one another and believe the best about one another, we become more than we are when we go it alone. You can help reverse the negative trend in our society by making an extra effort to be fair and optimistic when dealing with others.