Sometimes those who seem to be our enemies are really our friends.
- Take the scorpion. The venom of the five-inch long “death stalker” giant Israeli scorpion contains chlorotoxin, a substance that seeks our cancer-causing cells in the brain and keeps them from traveling anywhere else in the body. This magical transformation of a death poison into a life preservation substance could be the answer for 25,000 Americans suffering from glioma, at present an incurable and swiftly lethal form of brain cancer.
- Then there’s the copperhead, a snake found in the eastern United States. A protein in its venom markedly slows down the growth and spread of tumors, and medical science sees the snake’s poison as a new friend because of its prevention of breast and ovarian tumors in lab animals.
- A substance distilled from the skin of the poison-dart frog of Ecuador is a potent painkiller, two hundred times stronger than morphine.
- And from the vines growing in South America, a substance known as curare can be extracted to poison the tips of arrows but also to make a muscle relaxant. Venom from the saw-scaled viper has molecular compounds that act amazingly like substances in white blood cells and fend off bacterial infections. Researchers are preparing to test them in the fight against everything from cholera to staph to strep to salmonella.
Medical science demonstrates that what in its original form can be deadly can also be turned back on itself to become a remedy, a healer, a friend.
The same is true for criticism… Criticism could be poison, or with God’s fondness for turning things around and sending them in the opposite direction, words of criticism can produce the opposite effect and strengthen the people they were meant to hurt.
Appropriate and truthful criticism can point out error; it can point out loopholes in a philosophy.
But the most interesting effect of all criticism is that criticism only makes the headline type bolder when the critic is proved wrong. Numerous are the stories of Abraham Lincoln’s slowness, insufficient mental prowess for his high office, deficiencies in formal education, and reliance on the low and vulgar manners of his upbringing. Yet historians universally recognize him as our greatest president, and this underscores his accomplishments all the more. John Sloan, “The Best Criticism in the World,” The Barnabas Way, 77-80
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Proverbs 27:6
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