The Roman philosopher and statesman Cicero wrote: "I criticize by creation, not by finding fault."
Unfortunately it's easy to be a critic these days.
Anyone with access to a computer can create a website, a blog or other web presence and hold themselves out as an arbiter of what is wrong and right.
Facts, truth and evidence fall victim to select presentation, omission and misrepresentation.
Judgements are made as pronouncements of truth without rationale or substantiation and generally without full disclosure of all elements to be considered.
Instead we are asked to dismiss, disregard or reject based solely on "opinion."
And once that opinion has been expressed, then no discussion, further analysis or examination is deemed required.
In many cases these "opinions" are further supported in the form of attacks on the character and capabilities of the individual or organizations involved rather than bearing the burden of identifying the specifics of modification, adaptation or viable alternatives.
Again, these comments are often generalized descriptions of what the writer interprets as right and wrong.
New initiatives or productive ideas are often questioned by an unfounded search for hidden agendas or motives, some supposedly controlled by "others" with purposes contrary to the public good.
There is an aspect of anonymity to the Internet that allows these types of comments to be made without conscience or accountability. This is not to say that there is not a place for valid criticism.
Any proposed course of action is usually in response to a perceived need or identified cause. Open discussion of ideas, values and priorities together with the expression of opinion is the basis for shaping effective and meaningful action.
The key is that criticism should lead to the creation of a result that is ultimately better for all concerned.
In other words, if you don't like the idea presented, offer a better one. A community needs to be built by creative action, passionate commitment and constructive dialogue - it is not built by inactivity, ignorance or spiteful comments.
It starts by asking, "What are you FOR?" and then by getting involved to make it happen.
In subsequent articles I will be exploring some of the ways you can get more involved in the Abbotsford Chamber and in the community to help make Abbotsford an even better place to work, live and play.
We are your Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce.