Sun | Sep 24, 2017

That Steve Harvey Miss Universe gaffe

Published:Tuesday | December 22, 2015 | 12:51 PM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

I’M NO big fan of beauty pageants, but my patriotism prods me to occasionally watch to see how Jamaica will fare while my feminism pointlessly and silently screams ‘unfair’ when the more astute, charming candidates are left out of the top five.

But the ending of this year’s Miss Universe pageant was, to put it mildly, astonishing. While I was muttering about who was selected and the quality of the answers in the interview segment and so on, the unthinkable happened. Steve Harvey, one of my favourite guys on television, committed what seemed to be the cardinal media beauty pageant sin. He announced the runner-up as the winner and then, after the customary crowning, tears of joy and blowing of kisses, had to reverse it, simultaneously toppling the ‘universe’ and wiping the icing from the corners of Colombia’s lips.

The gaffe was incredible. Nevertheless, as the universe attempts to lift its proverbial jaw from the floor, I believe that Steve Harvey’s mistake presents an opportunity for us to learn more about ourselves, our humanity, making mistakes and forgiveness.

PROFESSIONAL EMBARRASSMENT

As a respected comedian, actor, author and talk-show host, Steve Harvey is no stranger to television or to the pressures of pleasing a discriminating audience. He is also well-loved by just about everybody. So the occurrence of this mistake tells us that sometimes even the most experienced, most loved and most qualified among us will make mistakes. The grown-up, loving, humble, humane thing to do is to sincerely and quickly apologise and make amends where possible. Full marks to Steve Harvey for attempting to do that in what must have been the gutter of professional embarrassment.

Sadly, however, his apology, in spite of its honesty, will not take away the sting of embarrassment from Miss Colombia or replace the stolen shine and glory to Miss Philippines. The apology itself cannot and will not fix it. I remember one of my children committing an act of disobedience and later feeling incredibly guilty and remorseful about it. She apologised profusely, but when the disappointment on my face didn’t disappear, she kept repeating the apology over and over with greater and greater intensity as if it should change my disappointment. It didn’t, and it usually doesn’t. I hugged her and told her that I accepted her apology but that I was still disappointed by her actions and would need to think about it further.

Among adults, it’s not much different. The fact of the matter is that while an apology may influence our decision to forgive, the decision to forgive comes from within us. We have to decide to forgive; it doesn’t just happen because someone is sorry. We have to decide to let it go, and sometimes even when the offending party isn’t sorry. That’s an inner decision that requires grace from the Almighty.

HONEST MISTAKE

Now what happens after we decide to forgive is also important. For the injured or affected party, it is key to determine if it was a mistake or a deliberate attempt to create harm. That determination is important since it determines how we treat the person going forward. Or does it? To me, it was an honest mistake.

In all instances, we must choose to forgive since forgiveness is healing for our own souls as well. If we are truthful, we will agree that there is no real peace without forgiveness. We gain nothing but heartache and physical sickness when we harbour and nurse hurts for years and years. We must let them go.

At a time when we are closing out 2015 and stepping into a new year, it is good to assess our heart condition and choose to forgive those who have hurt us as the first step, and then work through how to move forward. Should you allow those persons to continue to walk with you in 2016? Let God’s word be your guide.

UNFORTUNATE MISTAKE

Steve Harvey didn’t wilfully choose to harm Miss Colombia or Miss Philippines, but he did, and they, along with their countries and the Miss Universe pageant,are hurt and distressed by his unfortunate mistake. They should choose to forgive him.

Should he work in television again? Of course! He has a track record of being a generous, affable, humorous TV personality with a lot of offer. I leave it to the Miss Universe owners to assess his gaffe and determine if he should host their pageant again. For those hurling all kinds of malicious, injurious comments and pronouncements against him, I say don’t hit a good man when he is down.

To Miss Colombia and Miss Philippines, I say forgive, and don’t be afraid to appear on Steve’s talk show to chat about your upcoming projects and bring true meaning to the proclaimed values of the crown – that of charity and world peace!

SHELLY-ANN HARRIS

shellyannharris@gmail.com