Bert Hellinger, February 2014

Criticism has two sides, a friendly and a hostile one. Its friendly side is benevolent. It wants to serve the other and his cause and looks into the same direction together with the other. Both go hand in hand and are in the service of peace. Together they achieve something, at times in a painful way, yet always with an open view.
A beautiful example is when we see a mother or a father showing a child how something functions. They allow the child to try something out, for example riding a bike without falling down. If the child succeeds, then both are happy, especially the child. Ultimately every learning process is successful in a benevolent way.
The other side of criticism we experience through the so-called critics. The critic belittles a cause and those who represent it. His criticism turns into a weapon with which he passes on judgment over others. It serves warfare, many times with sharpened weapons.
Although this weapon is turned against us, we can and have to grow with it. The others and we are on the same level. If one gives in, he loses. The other one wins, or so it seems at least.
Yet often the one who gives in leaves the other one fall into his own trap. For example by ignoring him. By doing so he forces the critic to reinforce his criticism until he frequently digs his own grave by reinforcing it.
There is also a benevolent kind of criticism from outside. For example when someone takes both sides seriously and sets a different equal proportion without taking anyone’s side. As an outsider he serves both by observing fairly. He does not pursue any goal, which goes beyond both. His criticism is wise and ultimately unselfish. He suggests it without taking any side.
This applies especially to criticism about an established society or and established way of life. For example: a religion or a form of government life democracy or a dynasty, or an economic model such as capitalism or communism. The neutral criticism causes one to reflect without taking any sides. It serves inner growth. It causes both sides to be relieved.
The question is: how do we gain this inner independence and strength? We gain it through a distance from one side as well as from the other, with a gaze that goes beyond both. This criticism remains unselfish.


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