We think Michael Sata is handling criticism from the opposition and others associated with them in a very positive and constructive way.
It has to be accepted that all healthy democracies are noisy. Democracies make several assumptions about human nature. One is that, given the chance, people are generally capable of governing themselves in a manner that is fair and free.
Another is that any society comprises a great diversity of interests and individuals who deserve to have their voices heard and their views respected. But the right to be heard does not necessarily mean the right to be taken seriously. You are taken seriously on account of the value of what you say. Everyone is free to raise their voices and participate in the democratic processes of our country. But their impact will depend on the correctness and the value our people attach to what they say or do.
It is understandable that some people have to have their voices raised even if they have nothing sensible to say about anything or anyone. They will criticise everything and everyone except themselves.
It would seem the only way to avoid criticism in circumstances like these is to do nothing and be nothing. Those who do things inevitably stir up criticism.
The Bible offers its great promise concerning criticism: the truth always outlives a lie. This fact is hacked by Proverbs 12:9: “The lip of truth shall be established forever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment.”
Also, in Hebrews 13:6, we are told that we may boldly say, ” The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do onto me.” If you move with God, you will be critiqued.
Never judge people by what is said about them by their enemies. Kenneth Tynan has provided the best description of a critic we have ever heard: “A critic is a man who knows the way but can’t drive the car.”
We are not called to respond to criticism, we are called to respond to God. Often, criticism will present the best platform from which to proclaim the truth. We have our own experience with this. Over the three years Rupiah Banda was in government, a vicious and malicious campaign was started against us.
Television and radio programmes were initiated whose sole purpose was to malign and humiliate us. It was hoped that in that way, our credibility as a newspaper would diminish and whatever we say about them no one will believe it or take it seriously. Others in the opposition joined Rupiah’s league to malign us. And to this very day, they have continued to do so. We seldom responded to their lies, propaganda, calumny and malice. We remained silent for most of the time in the midst of all that slander not because we had nothing to say or that we were unable to defend ourselves.
We simply found it a waste of time to engage in a discourse with people who were not seeking the truth but whose sole aim was to malign and humiliate us by smearing us with filth. We had belief in the justice and fairness of our people. We were convinced that no matter how much lies are told about us, no matter how much falsehood is brought to bear against us, the truth will eventually emerge and our people will recognise it. In the end, those who were maligning us lost the elections – both of them the MMD and UPND, Rupiah and Hakainde Hichilema.
Moreover, those who maligned us, those who defame us open themselves to civil litigation. We don’t need to take legal action against slander and libel the same day it happens. We can wait up to just before three years pass to take action. We have the patience to do that. And those who have defamed us shouldn’t think all is over and they have gotten away with it. They haven’t. There is still enough time for us to sue them. And we will sue them at our own time. What we do, our responses to what they do against us will not be dictated by them. We will choose our time to go for them and we will go for them. It may suit them now to defame us, to malign us but their time will come to grief.
Michael doesn’t also unnecessarily respond to the nonsense, the filth that is thrown at him everyday in what seems to be the belief that “ubuchenjeshi bwa nkoko pungwa tasakamana”.
Most of the time, people who are critical are either envious or uninformed. They usually say things that have no impact whatsoever upon truth. There is an anonymous saying that describes this situation perfectly: ‘It is useless for the sheep to pass resolutions in favour of vegetarianism while the wolf remains of a different opinion.”
If what you say and do is of God, it will not make any difference if every other person on the face of the earth criticises you. Likewise, if what you are doing is not of God, nothing other people say will make it right.
Pay no attention to negative criticism. “Trust in the Lord, and do good” (Psalm 37:3), knowing that in the end, what you do in the Lord will be rewarded. Nobody can ever make you feel average without your permission. Ingratitude and criticism are going to come; they are part of the price you pay for leaping past mediocrity.
Jesus himself, after healing ten lepers, was thanked by only one of them (Luke 17:11-19). Learn to expect ingratitude. Some of the people who will be very critical of you today are those who have benefitted the most from your work, from the efforts you have exerted. We see it ourselves everyday. Some opposition political parties that are where they are today because of our work are the ones in the forefront of smearing us with filth, lies and propaganda. They have forgot everything good we have done for them.
They attribute everything good that happened to them to themselves. They have forgotten about the coverage we used to give them in their infancy. All the glory is unto themselves and to no one else. All their failures are blamed on us and on others, never on themselves. Are these the people we should surrender our dreams to? Never surrender your dream to noisy negatives!