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By Dr. Rick Koole
Special to the Village News 

'Answering your critics'


Last updated 7/9/2018 at 10:10am

As World War I became more brutal, some young men in Britain found ways to avoid going to war. They were so despised that in August 1914 Admiral Charles Fitzgerald founded “The Order of the White Feather.” The organization encouraged women to give out white feathers to young men who refused to join the British army. Things quickly got out of hand as crowds of young women taunted seemingly eligible men who were dressed in civilian clothes. Then the unthinkable happened.

Collie Knox was a British Victorian Cross winner who had been wounded at least 24 times and was attending a celebration in his honor in his hometown. He and a friend who had been badly injured in a flying accident while serving in the Royal Flying Corps had that very day been decorated for gallantry at Buckingham Palace. They had changed from their medal-covered uniforms into civilian clothes and were lunching together at a famous London restaurant, when a group of young women, presuming them to be cowards, came up and as a sign of disgust, handed each of them a white feather – the badge of cowardice.

People should be careful about criticizing others. We seldom know what others are may be going through. In the Bible, God said, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged.” Instead, of criticizing, give them a priceless gift. Give them “the benefit of the doubt.” Even the legal system declares that people are “innocent until proven guilty.”

But, what should you do if you have been the target of criticism?

First, expect criticism. When attempting to accomplish anything of importance, you will receive criticism. Few have ever received as much criticism as Abraham Lincoln. When asked how he coped with it, he replied, “If I tried to read, much less answer, all the criticisms made of me and all the attacks leveled against me, this office would have to be closed for all other business. I do the best I know how, the very best I can. And I mean to keep on doing this, down to the very end. If the end brings me out all wrong, then angels swearing I had been right would make no difference. If the end brings me out all right, then what is said against me now will not amount to anything.”

Second, determine to not let the criticism of others cause you to become bitter. Always seek to become “better, not bitter,” in the face of criticism.

Third, search for the kernel of truth. Norman Vincent Peale reminded people that “The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.”

Lastly, focus on the task and not the criticism. While others had failed miserably attempting to build the Panama Canal, Col. George Washington Goethals was confident he could get the canal built. He suffered vicious and unending criticism from the American press. His critics called him a fool and predicted that he would never complete his great task. But the resolute builder pressed steadily forward in his work and refused to defend himself.

As the criticism increased, a subordinate asked him: “Aren’t you going to answer your critics?”

Goethals only replied, “In time.”

His subordinate asked, “How?”

The great engineer smiled and simply replied, “With the canal.”


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