This was actually the 4th item posted when I launched the blog eight years ago, not the first, but I think it reflects what online opinion writers should strive for, especially when it is so easy to write and post critique. The comments following the poem itself were on one of the websites where we located this version of it.
Builders and Wreckers
I watched them tearing a building down,
A gang of men in a busy town.
With a ho, heave, ho and a lusty yell
They swung a beam and a wall fell.
I asked the foreman, “Are these men skilled?
Like the men you’d hire if you had to build?”
He laughed as he replied, “No, indeed,
Just common labor is all I need.
I can easily wreck in a day or two
What builders have taken years to do.”
I asked myself as I went away
Which of these roles have I tried to play?
Am I a builder who works with care,
Measuring life by rule and square?
Or am I a wrecker who walks the town
Content with the labor of tearing down?
Oh Lord, let my life and labors be
That which build for eternity.
Why do so many of us find it gratifying to be sideline cynics smothering ideas in a relentless barrage of “what ifs” and warnings? As the poem points out, it’s much easier to be a wrecker than a builder.
Of course it’s wise and necessary to challenge assumptions, test theories and predict problems, but that should be the beginning not an end. We should measure our value by the number of balloons we helped launch, not the number we deflated.
A builder sees problems as challenges and seeks solutions; a dismantler sees problems in every solution. A builder sees flaws and tries to fix them; a dismantler sees flaws in every fix.