Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Criticizing the Iron Eagle

One of the classic movies that the 1980's produced was Iron Eagle, the story of Doug Masters, a teenage boy and hot-shot pilot, whose father is shot down and taken captive by a hostile country. Eventually, this boy takes it upon himself to rescue his dad by flying a state of the art jet-fighter into the heart of enemy territory with only his teenage friends and an aging flight instructor named Pappy (played by Louis Gossett Jr) as ground support. At one point, Doug is flying in a simulator and getting into trouble. Pappy's voice comes over the speaker giving him constructive criticism in order to keep his plane in the air.  The teenager refuses, claiming he has it under control, and ends up crashing his simulated jet into the ground. As Doug learns to take Pappy's criticism, however, he becomes the kind of pilot that can fly single-handedly into enemy territory and retrieve his father from hostile forces. As least in movie land.

At the beginning of the movie, Doug takes any criticism as an insult to his ability and he pays the price for it. But when Doug realizes that Pappy has both the wisdom and the experience to help him rescue his dad, Doug begins to listen and it pays off. In some ways, the theme of the movie can be summed up in Proverbs 13:18, "If you ignore criticism, you will end in poverty and disgrace; if you accept correction, you will be honored." (NLT).  At times, we can find it very difficult to receive criticism from other people, especially if we take it as a personal insult or react emotionally to it. Criticism, though, even if intended as an insult, is one of those unique opportunities to improve ourselves. Criticism provides us the advantage of an outside observer who can see our flaws and the areas where we have the most room to be better. This is true even if the criticism is presented as an insult.

Even unjust criticism affords us the unique opportunity to be stronger and better than we were before. Criticism offers us the choice to be hurt and angry, to practice discernment in evaluating the criticism, or to be proactive and improve. And, like the author of this proverb claims, discerning consideration of criticism can help us to achieve a place of honor among our peers and in our community. No one gets to be the best at what they do without learning to use criticism to grow.

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