Agenda Setting

“It’s easier to judge a voice than it is to use one.”

As an impressionable teenager in the early oughts, it was common for me to shape my entire world view on the lyrics of punk bands. Though these nascent views would prove malleable, no one line has had such a lasting impact on me as the one quoted here. It comes from a song entitled “Banished and Loving It” by The Ghost, a now defunct post-punk band that released a few records to mild acclaim in the early-to-mid-2000s. Back then, I was a self-proclaimed “music reviewer,” and I had the task of judging the art of The Ghost – and more specifically, the words written by frontman Brian Moss. When I heard him passionately belt this line for the first time, time stopped. He was speaking to me, even if he wasn’t. 

I learned then that it really is easier to be a critic than to make that which is being critiqued. It’s part of the reason I informally retired from judging music, but The Ghost’s wise words have impacted my life in a far more profound way. They pushed me to never complain, gripe, or dissent without offering a suggestion in return. Those words always remind me that every critique must come attached with a recommendation for improvement. Not just in work, but also in life.

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