Encouragement vs. Insult

I believe one of the cruelest insults a person can level at someone is to refer to that person as an amateur. At one time, we were all new to whatever it was we were pursuing.

Before the advent of social media, where everything a person does is on display from day one, some people had the opportunity to hone their craft to perfection without being in the constant spotlight, thus looking professional and well established when they joined social media. Stop and think for a minute: This is only how it appears.

GiveBack_webWe may never see every person’s humble beginnings, but rest assured every person has one. Instead of resorting to insults, privately distributed constructive criticism is what the situation calls for. If you, the commenter, don’t believe you can do this, simply refrain.

I’m not suggesting we become a world of wimps who shrivel at every negative comment. Just remember to be tactful and professional with your advice. It is possible to build people up even as you’re pointing out what they did wrong.

Share both your positive and negative experiences, offer your resources, give as well as take, and let the new person stand on your shoulders until they are strong enough to stand on their own two feet. It’s amazing how great you’ll feel when you do.

This advice also applies when helping someone who has been at a particular craft for a while and may still need instruction.  Again, encourage them and watch your fellow artist thrive under your beneficial tutelage rather than recoil from your scathing remark.

I offer the example set by James Michael Kahle, master glassblower, as the standard for how one should give back to those who are new to any form of art. Whether it is glassblowing, photography, writing, or painting, Mr. Kahle’s attitude toward approaching art and teaching others is inspiring. In fact, many of the lessons he applies to his art can be applied to life in general.

Some of Mr. Kahle’s views featured in the PBS documentary about his glassblowing, Turning Fire Into Ice, include his commitment to his art, his persistence when accepting challenges, listening to your art versus popular opinion, not dwelling on a setback, and, the most impressive, giving back and/or instructing future generations for free.

The world would be a considerably better place if we all adopted Mr. Kahle’s belief that if you don’t give back then you don’t have the right to take and what would the future be if we don’t give back now?

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