For the past couple of weeks, there’s been a lot of talk about Miley Cyrus’ VMA performance. I never watched it myself, but, apparently, many people didn’t care for it because they found it inappropriate and crude.
I was appalled when I saw the pictures. I used to love the show Hannah Montana, and, although Miley’s character kind of annoyed me, I respected the actress. “And now this?” I thought. I was repelled by what she had grown up to be, and I didn’t want to think about it, nor accept it.
A few days afterward, a few radio hosts on a Christian music station called Air 1 talked about Miley, and what they said changed my entire viewpoint.
One of the hosts, Eric, started the discussion by reminding us of the young Britney Spears. She first appeared to us as a fairly innocent and naive girl, but when she started to act not-so-innocent, we reprimanded and looked down on her, just as we have with Miley.
Eric also told us about a song written by Christian artist Bebo Norman called “Hey, Britney”, and he encouraged us to replace the word “Britney” with “Miley”. One of the verses said this:
Britney I’m sorry for the stones we throw
We tear you down just so we can watch the show
Britney I’m sorry for the words we say
We point the finger as you fall from grace*
Those lyrics slapped me in the face, and I realized that I had thrown some hefty stones. I’m not saying that I have always liked the things Britney and MIley have done, but I sure don’t like the way I treated them. Maybe I was trying to build myself up by tearing others down. Maybe I had forgotten that I was talking about a real person—a human being with feelings like mine—or maybe I didn’t think of how I would feel if I were judged by complete strangers. I don’t know why I acted like that, but I learned that it was wrong. I was reminded to speak kindly of everyone (whether or not I like them, respect them, or even know them) and to love others consistently. I was reminded to give everyone a chance to come back from their fall from grace.
In the two most recent Star Trek films, James T. Kirk is an example of one who was given a chance by a captain named Christopher Pike. Pike knew that Kirk’s late father had been a great man, and although Kirk showed almost no potential to be like his dad, he believed that Kirk could be just as admirable. So, Pike invited him to enroll in Starfleet Academy to be trained as Kirk’s father had been.
Kirk eventually became a captain, making Pike proud, but began to do some really dumb stuff, leading Pike to reprimand Kirk and take his place. And you know what? Pike could have sent Kirk back to the Academy, stripping him of his title entirely, but he didn’t. He made him First Officer, explaining that he still believed in him and continued to see “a ‘greatness’ behind his recklessness”**. He gave Kirk another chance.
Pike was murdered soon afterward, but his compassion and example led Kirk to change his ways, becoming a captain once more. I’m sure that Kirk never forgot that the only reason he held his position was because of the man who gave him that first chance.
I wish I was more like Pike. To see the good in people, overlooking their past mistakes, and to believe in them even when they mess up—that would be quite a gift indeed. Giving others multiple chances for redemption is far from easy, but this man exemplified how to do so with love.
You know who else has that ability? Christ.
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for us. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5: 6-8)
God gave me that first chance, and will always be there to pick me up, reprimand me, and believe in me. He will help me and love me forever, even when I make huge mistakes. We can learn from Pike’s example, but we can certainly learn from Christ’s.
I reacted to Miley with quick judgement and little compassion. I should have remembered that I’m a sinner just like her, and that I’ve messed up, too. Most importantly, I should have remembered that there’s always a chance that she will come to Christ. Who knows? All I can do is pray, and leave the stones on the ground where they belong.
*Read the rest of the lyrics and Norman’s insightful interview here.
**Read the article on Pike here.