Being Joyfully Self-Critical

After working on the collective course statement over the course of the last few classes, I have come across a lot of my notes from earlier in the class that I forgot about. Particularly, I came across the sentence “we must be joyfully self-critical, and never have a goal“, capitalized and starred. This was within my notes regarding the discussion with Professor Kennison about medical voluntourism. As we come back to discussing medical voluntourism in terms of our collective course statement, and the solutions we can come up with for the problems with it, I thought that this statement was very important in terms of that, but also in terms of our class in general.

For me, the idea of being joyfully self-critical does not only mean taking criticism from others well. It means appreciating criticism from others, and being able to criticize yourself without getting down on yourself. We should be able to assess our own decisions and actions, and reflect on them and whether or not they are good or bad. This relates back to our class in so many ways. Throughout the class, it wasn’t about being right or wrong when it came to our discussions. It wasn’t, for the most part, about our tangible work such as handing in papers or doing projects. It was about coming to conclusions with others, bringing them to the table during class, and reflecting on them afterwards, hence the purpose of this semester blogging assignment. If you are joyfully self-critical, it means you are mature enough to realize that not everything you do or say is going to be realistic or accurate or agreed upon, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do or say anything. Life is about our own personal growth and learning from our experiences.

In terms of the second part of the statement, “don’t have a goal”, that has a very negative connotation, but hear me out because I have a very positive idea around it. Based on the notes I took regarding this part, not having a goal means not being selfish and only thinking about yourself. Most of the time when people set goals, they are individual goals. When we all enrolled in this class, we each subconsciously set an individual goal to pass this class and get the credit for it to go towards our degrees. But once we got going in this class, it became more than that. We didn’t specifically set goals, but instead, we came together as a group and rather than focusing on a goal or end product, we focused on the mission or ride throughout the class. We focused on things in life that are very relevant to us and our society. Instead of ending the course by testing us on all the memorized facts we’ve learned, only for us to forget every bit of it the second we leave our final exam period, we are taking the information we’ve learned and utilizing it in a way to improve on our own lives and on the society we live in. We are taking everything we’ve learned throughout the course and turning that knowledge into lessons. Lessons that matter, and that can change on how we look at the world.


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