Anderson Cooper missed out on a Teachable Moment
While perusing the hilarious Awesomely Luvvie‘s site, I came across a clip of Anderson Cooper fussing out the self-professed “Human Barbie” Sarah Burge on his show. Ms. Burge has had HALF A MILLION DOLLARS worth of plastic surgery to look like a Barbie doll. And she’s now passing on her body image issues to her seven-year-old daughter by teaching the young girl to pole dance and buying the child a voucher for liposuction and breast implants to cash in at 18 years old. After Ms. Burge explained to Anderson that she allows her daughter to get forehead botox shots to prevent sweating in order to prevent the child from buying botox online and self-administering it, Anderson kindly asked Ms. Burge to have a seat. On someone else’s couch. In someone else’s studio. Cause he was done talking to her. Watch Anderson tell her that she aint got to go home, but:
SARAH BURGE: I would prefer to actually oversee my daughter’s botox than actually have her going underground to a voodoo witchdoctor or in fact getting it off the internet and administering it herself.
ANDERSON COOPER: Right. Um. I honestly have nothing more to talk to you about, I’ve got to be honest. I’ve got to be honest. I’ve got to just stop. I’m sorry. I try to be really polite to all of my guests, I just think you’re dreadful and I honestly don’t want to talk to you anymore.
Sheesh! The old adage is “kill them with kindness,” Coop, not “kill them kindly”! But on the one hand, I feel Lil Andy. There are very good reasons to be angry with Ms. Burge. While she is an adult and is free to mutilate her body how she chooses, passing those insecurities on to her impressionable child is absolutely “dreadful,” as Anderson said and ought to fall under the legal definition of child abuse. But clearly this woman is ill. And Anderson seems like a perfectly nice (and dreamy!) man who is genuinely interested in helping people in need. So what went wrong in this interview? Here was a great opportunity for Anderson to try to get to the bottom of what’s really good (or really bad) with Ms. Burge but he blew it. He claimed in his “explanation” video that he was frustrated with Ms. Burge because she wouldn’t answer his questions truthfully and seemed to only be there for publicity. But it seemed like the normally calm Anderson came to this interview prepared for battle:
It’s also very hard to open up to someone who is standing up on the stairs with a giant audience/mob, looking down on you. If he wanted to ask some tough questions while also letting her know she was in a safe place, that he cared about her and her daughter, he should’ve gone full Oprah:
Coming down to this woman’s level — literally sitting next to her and WITH her — talking to her and not AT her could have changed the entire course of this interview. Instead of publicly humiliating this already hurting woman, Anderson could have started her out on a path to real healing that would’ve benefited both her and her daughter. Though things might not get any worse for Ms. Burge as a result of this interview, things were certainly not improved for her mental and emotional state. But while Anderson may have completely lost his opportunity to have a positive impact on her life, it’s not too late for us to take advantage of this teachable moment*.
Think back: When was the last time you approached someone (loved one/friend/complete stranger) while they were doing something completely trifling? What was the result? Please note: when I ask what the result was, I do not mean “did the person change his/her behavior?” Whether the behavior is changed is between the person and God and the Holy Spirit who is the only one who can change a person’s heart. No, the result to monitor is how the person felt when your conversation was finished. Did the person feel loved and like you truly cared for him/her, even if you disagree? Or did the person walk away like Ms. Burge, feeling dismissed and judged and embarrassed with your evil side-eye burning into her back? Remember: Christ’s two commands of Christians are to “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.” Speaking to someone “in love” is a skill to be mastered — balancing both truth and gentleness that is packaged in such a way that the person will be open to receiving what you have to say.
What does your fruit look like when you come across people who are doing trifling things? The “fruits of the Spirit” — evidence that the Holy Spirit is alive in you — are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Was there peace after your conversation was over –on both sides — or was there turmoil and hurt feelings?
Even in the midst of our own triflingness, God is patient with us. The evidence of this is that we’re STILL ALIVE when He could’ve easily not woken us up this morning or spared us from whatever evil was coming up against us that we weren’t even aware of. Just as God is patient with us, let’s practice patience with each other, praying for others instead of dismissing them as lost causes. Just as God did the impossible — changed us and broke us of our harmful and destructive ways — He can do the same for others!
How Do You Deal With Trifling Folk?
*Rest In Peace, Dr. Freddye Davy! She Is The Woman Who Taught Me What a Teachable Moment Was And Took Every Opportunity to Point Them Out To Me!