Mike Cope's blog

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

One of my elders, Joey Cope (no relation), is the director of ACU's Center for Conflict Resolution. So far he hasn't responded to my suggestion that we could team up for a conflict resolution company called Cope & Cope: I seem to have the gift of creating it, and he has the gift of resolving it. Good team. He writes a column called "Distinct Impressions." Here's a great piece this week (used by his permission). “Corner” takes on a lot of meanings. If someone is “in your corner,” you have a friend, an advocate, an encourager. If a car “corners well,” Consumer Reports writes it up as an automobile with great handling and stability. If I had continued to practice law full-time, I might have had a “corner office” by now. More windows, more prestige. During the birthday parties of my youth, a “corner piece” of cake ensured the maximum amount of icing. In building, the “corner stone” sets the direction and layout of the structure and provides strength essential to construction integrity. The “corner store” is a thriving business because it is located at the intersection – a place of maximum traffic and exposure. In the commodities arena, “cornering the market” is control of a financial goldmine. When our project makes significant progress, we congratulate each other on “turning the corner.” We suffer when we feel we’ve been “cornered.” Just something ugly about being forced into taking a position or making a stand we weren’t prepared for. The corner I’ve come to detest is the “critics’ corner.” That place where those who perceive themselves to be smarter stand and call out to the rest of us, “I wouldn’t have done that.” Or point out that since a particular event didn’t have the best outcome, additional evidence is now available to show that “everybody but me is a complete idiot.” Critics are a constant. They’ve been around since the beginning of the world. Satan criticized God for the whole knowledge-of-good-and-evil business. Adam criticized Eve for causing him to sin. He even took a potshot at God for giving him Eve. Eve criticized Satan. We have all suffered as a result. It’s not unusual these days to praise an individual one day for a particular act and to condemn her the next for not doing better. There just seems to be something unusually sweet about tearing apart the achievements, the plans and the dreams of others. Destruction of good intentions is a high stakes game. The winners bask in euphoric revelry while the losers suffer shame and discredit. Criticism is a sin. “But wait a minute!” you say. “Isn’t there a difference between destructive and constructive criticism? Isn’t there a time to stand up and be counted?” We must make stands. We must be counted. Is there a difference between destructive and constructive criticism? Only in the eyes of the one who criticizes. I have friends who take great pride in their skills of criticism. I have those friends because I’ve walked among them often and been honored by them because of my own heightened skills of verbal dissection. I’m even known in some circles for my supremely developed sarcasm – and known for nothing else. I have been a frequent and exuberant participant in the “critics’ corner.” In a day when “coming out of closets” is common, I want to go on record that I’m trying to come out, too. Not out of a secret place. Instead, I want everyone to know that I am trying to leave the prominence of the corner where critics stand. There will be those who will criticize me for this. Undoubtedly, I will have moments when I will sink backward into the old ways. My only hope is that I can look past the edge and listen to the voices of those who would encourage me. As I try to climb out of this pit of a corner, it is my hope that many will join me in looking for higher ground. There is a place of true standards and accountability. A habitat where people can lovingly disagree and work together to find answers. We don’t have to wait for heaven. It’s simply a different corner. One where my concern for you matters as much as my concern for me. I really want to be in God’s corner. I want to be at peace. Join me?


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