Lost, season 1, episode 7. The first episode centered on Charlie.

The Episode

Before the island, Charlie had been reluctant to stick with the band because of the conflict between his religion and the temptations that the band’s popularity was introducing. His brother Liam told Charlie of how important Charlie was to him and to the band and that he couldn’t do it without him. Liam promised that they would help each other and stop if things got out of hand. So Charlie continued with the band and the record deal based on the confidence that his brother had given him.

Later when the band had gotten even more popular, Charlie found his brother with drugs. By that time Liam had become the popular member of the band and had taken credit away from Charlie, and this time Liam wasn’t flattering to his brother. Liam said that he was the important member of the band and that Charlie was useless. Now torn down by his brother, Charlie found comfort in drugs for the first time.

By the time Charlie crashed on the island, he was a hopeless addict (while his brother was ironically clean and settled down with a family). When Charlie isn’t needed to pitch in around camp he starts to believe that his new friends don’t value him and that they think he’s useless, and he wants to turn back to his drugs. Locke shows faith in Charlie that he’ll be able to kick his addiction. Later when Jack finds out what Charlie was going through, Jack tells Charlie how valuable he is. At the end of the episode Charlie finally decides to burn his drugs so that he can’t go back to them.

There’s a pattern that I notice in Charlie’s life. When Charlie was at his best and his strongest and his most confident was when the people that he loved expressed how much they valued him. When Charlie was at his worst and his most vulnerable was when those people expressed a lack of love and appreciation.

The Lesson

Here’s the moral of the story in my opinion: The way that we treat people matters! That might be obvious, but it’s easy to forget or make excuses for it.

Coincidentally we had a similar lesson in Young Men’s class at church last week. Adam showed the following video, which I think is really well done. I like that it captures some pretty realistic high school interactions. (Also the lines about not drinking all of the juice somehow remind me of Napolean Dynamite.)

I think that we often make excuses for our own immoral actions and words by saying that people are responsible for themselves and if someone else chooses to be offended by something we say or do then it’s their own fault. The hypocrisy in that is that we require everyone to be accountable for their own actions while we try to avoid the responsibility for our offenses.

Here’s another coincidence where this idea has come up lately. Kelly recently shared this quote in an FHE thought:

When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, O what power it has over my mind, while the opposite course has a tendency to harrow up all the harsh feelings and depress the human mind. (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 5:24)

Joseph Smith felt like he was affected and influenced by the way that other people treated him, whether positively or negatively. It’s probably not fair or realistic for us to expect our friends and neighbors to be immune to the way that we treat them.

To tie this back to the episode, imagine for a minute how Charlie’s life might have been different if the people in his life before the island had treated him with the love and respect that his new friends on the island treated him with in this episode. The writers of this episode give us a nice view into Charlie’s life and the key moments in it as they relate to his addiction, but in real life it’s harder to see the results of our actions. Take even the smallest thing that we say or do, consider the possible butterfly effect (no pun intended with the episode title), and there’s no telling how big of an impact we can make, whether for good or for evil.

The Metaphor

John Locke uses a metaphor with a moth to teach Charlie that he’ll grow through his trials, but I want to hijack that metaphor to tie it into the lesson of the episode in a different way. Here’s part of the exchange from Locke and Charlie:

Come here. Let me show you something. What do you suppose is in that cocoon, Charlie?
I don’t know, a butterfly, I guess?
No, it’s much more beautiful than that. That’s a moth cocoon. It’s ironic, butterflies get all the attention; but moths — they spin silk, they’re stronger, they’re faster.

And we’ll stop there. Forget the comparison with the moth and the butterfly (because putting down the butterfly contradicts what I’m going for here) and focus on the fact that Locke finds¬†beauty in the moth. It’s easy to think that the butterfly is beautiful because it’s got pretty colors on its wings, but finding the beauty in the moth requires knowing more about it. It’s different than the butterfly, but it’s not any less beautiful.

What if we all treated each other that way? What if we all strove to find the beauty in each other and always treated each other as beautiful and valuable people? I think that’d be pretty good.