Naysayers are just making noise

Published 9:36 pm Wednesday, March 20, 2019

“Unh-uh, unh-uh.”

That’s what I would swear I heard the crow calling out to me as I walked down the sidewalk.

It was “‘Nevermore, nevermore,’ quoth the raven” kinda stuff.

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I’ve talked and written about history enough for people to know I love it, so it will come as no surprise that I used to regularly purchase a periodical called “Armchair General” about military history. It was a bi-monthly publication that went out of print in 2015. It’s all online now.

Every two months I’d pick up a copy at the local bookstore — I don’t know why I didn’t just subscribe — and read through blow-by-blow accounts of battles throughout world history. Analysts, professional and amateur, would dissect all that was known about the battle, looking at plans, strategies, implementation, results.

The “fun” part came when the analysts would then lay out what they would have done differently had they been in charge on those fateful days. And it would nearly always have turned out perfectly.

Imagine that. Hindsight is 20-20, they say.

Every game of every football season, armchair quarterbacks relax in the comfort of their favorite television viewing spot and yell at the screen, telling coaches, players and refs what they should have done.

Game show fans watch classics like “Jeopardy!” and call out the answers, not understanding why a college professor wouldn’t know that answer — c’mon, man, it was so easy.

But the armchair generals, armchair quarterbacks, and armchair game show contestants have something that the actual people in the battles and games didn’t have — safe, tension-free, aerial view perspective. For some reason, observers seem to believe that if they can see the enemy battalion sneaking up the hill to flank the army’s main attack, then the soldiers on the ground on the other side of the hill ought to be able to see them, too. That’s not reality.

When the camera pans and shows two open receivers downfield and the quarterback makes a quick toss to a closer player who can’t hold on to the ball, people wonder why he didn’t just lob a Hail Mary down the sideline to Super Receiver X.

Sometimes I think it would be poetic, even hilarious, if one of these guys ran out on the field and tried to do better, only to get tackled hard and taught a lesson.

Why doesn’t the next victim in the thriller film know the killer is waiting in her closet? We saw him go in there, after all. And as the once-popular “Are You Smarter than a 5th-Grader?” game show demonstrated, it’s much easier to remember elementary school information when you are currently in elementary school, rather than an adult. Unless you’re a fifth-grade teacher, maybe.

Naysayers and those who think they could have done it better will always be around. Sometimes it’s fun to call out gameshow answers, yell at professional athletes and see if you can figure out a way for the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae to defeat the Persians.

But post an opinion of … well, anything … on social media and get ready for the hyena trolls to attack.

You like that food? Disgusting. Repulsive. We would have made it differently and much better. And have you ever see the kitchen in that restaurant? I heard it had Nazi roaches.

You agree with that politician? Shame on you. I never voted for her. She is the worst ever and you’re hell bound because you think she said something intelligent.

You want to see repeat criminals arrested for doing things they know are illegal and dangerous? Should law enforcement act quickly and decisively, use the appropriate amount of force and restraint and apprehend someone if they are committing a crime?

Or do you think the officer/deputy/trooper should have spoken softly and asked the person to pretty please not do that anymore and then walk away? Does it depend on where the person was arrested, or what the exact crime was, or the ethnicity of the person arrested or person making the arrest?

Armchair quarterbacks, armchair gameshow contestants, armchair officers, armchair social media critics.

Armchair generals, all.

They are the crows cawing loudly from their safe hidden place in the upper branches of the trees, looking down on everyone else. Observing, not participating. Just making noise.

Make the best choices you can today. Be wise, as much as you are able. (Hint: The Bible says you can ask God for wisdom, and he’ll give it to you.) And ignore the naysayers, as much as you can. Hold on to the constructive comments and advice and discard the rest. Try not to tackle them, if you can avoid it.

A lot of our mothers told us something to the effect of, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” The character Clairee Belcher in “Steel Magnolias” famously said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say about anybody, come sit by me.”

But I heard a wise couple of words of advice this morning about that: “Unh-uh, unh-uh.”

Brett Campbell can be reached at or 601-265-5307.