Some of you didn’t appreciate my blog post on the state of Cincinnati dining yesterday, which is great. I enjoy a good discussion — and I love a heated argument (which has frustrated many a boyfriend, but that’s a story for a later date.) Bring on the counterpoints! I’m not arrogant enough to believe I’m always right or even coherent.
Except on this one little point.
One of the critics of the blog knocked the snarky tone of it (thanks!) and said that while she could waste time finding the bad in everything:
“I’d prefer to focus on the good!”
That’s a lovely sentiment, I suppose, but no. I don’t think that’s right. Focusing on the good is a naive practice, one that leads people to stay stupid things like “Hitler was actually brilliant, ya know,” and “But, but…can’t we remember Joe Paterno for being a great coach, instead?”
If everyone focused on the good, Steve Jobs would have ignored the user unfriendliness of clunky PCs because “at least they kind of work!” Actually, would PCs exist? Would computers still be the size of houses? Would there even be computers? Would cars have been invented? Would we be wearing clothes?!
See where I’m going with this?
Let’s talk about Cincinnati, a city that historically has “focused on the good” — and become the butt of jokes for it. Even people who can’t find the city on a map have read what Mark Twain once posted on Facebook: “When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati because it’s always twenty years behind the times.”
Focusing on the good means that people worship sports teams even during a losing season, because “at least they didn’t lose them all!” Focusing on the good caused a bunch of probably well-intentioned people to battle the streetcar — because Metro is “good enough.” Focusing on the good is why we angrily defend ourselves against criticism from national media rather than whipping out a mirror and asking why a writer might say: “It’s not in the nature of stoic Cincinnatians to boast, which is fortunate, really, for they have meager pickings to boast about.”
I say we forget about focusing on the good and work on what’s bad. Be coaches rather than cheerleaders, advocates rather than observers. And this means that when you get a bland piece of meat, you don’t pay $100 and rave about the mashed potatoes. You demand that the chef do better. Because he can — and if you make him, he will.