World could use less criticism, more critique

By Clyde Davis: Local Columnist

An article on the sports pages caught my eye the other day. The focus was Dallas Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe and some of the negative press he has seemingly attracted over the course of his career.

Now, I am not much of a Cowboys fan, nor am I a Cowboys ”nonfan;” my loyalties simply lie with other teams, like the Steelers, Packers or Redskins. Resultantly, I don’t know much about Bledsoe, or the bad press, though it seemed to have something to do with injuries.

I do know this. There are not a great many sports writers who are in the position of being chased around weekly by guys who weigh 300 pounds and move with the quickness of a cat, like most NFL defensive linemen do.

This column is not, however, about football. That was simply a recent encounter with one of many life situations wherein people feel compelled to criticize, rather than critique, another’s performance. How much more productive is it to point out what someone is doing right, and then encourage him, pat her on the back, uplift him, affirm her for her progress?

Let’s take the issue of local leadership. Is it somehow viewed as weakness, or unnecessary, to uplift our local leaders? When was the last time you bothered to say thank you to our city and county commissioners, our mayor, or any of the “next to volunteer” folks who take responsibility for what happens in Clovis and Curry County?

Most of us know these folks are not paid enough to compensate for their time; they take leadership because they want us all to have a better community. They’re willing to work through the details of what that means, for the diverse population of this area.

Do we support the persons who have made it their calling to lead in community decisions? By support, I don’t mean blind following, rather positive feedback and encouragement, along with helpful suggestions, if you have any.

The city manager, the county manager, the Chamber of Commerce director and her staff, the chief of police, the fire chief — all of these and others are people who assess where we are going as a town and a county, and try to steer us in the best direction. To accomplish that movement, they need our input, our affirmations, and our suggestions of how things might be done differently. Nobody likes leading in a vacuum.

What about the committee that fought so hard to convince federal officials to keep Cannon Air Force Base open? The vote is still out on what will happen; life is full of ambiguities, so live with it.

In the meantime, nobody can deny that the leadership, and many of the citizens, of this town and its neighbors worked overtime and poured out a lot of energy in trying to keep the air base. My personal opinion is, I think it worked. If not, it wasn’t a lack of trying.

It always grates on me when I feel that someone is doing the best that he or she can, and doing this in a public service venue, and not getting the “thank yous” deserved. Perhaps it is because I have been in that position; as a clergy or as an educator, I end up lots of times organizing things, and it always seems so much more fulfilling when you get a simple “thank you,” hopefully coupled with a few things you did right, and even some ideas of how it can be improved.

So look around. Make yourself aware of who is providing leadership in various areas in our community. Thank them for the job they are doing, and will be doing. Perhaps even offer your time in some role yourself. It’s easy to sit on the sideline, or in the box, and ignore the efforts being put forth. But it’s more fulfilling to back the team, to be part of the team.

Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and an instructor at Eastern New Mexico University. He can be contacted at: