“If you’re losing your soul and you know it, then you’ve still got a soul left to lose.” ~Charles Bukowski
To no one’s surprise, Lance Armstrong has finally confessed to using illegal substances and banned methods to boost his racing performances.
The reactions have spanned the gamut from compassion and pity to venom and disgust. I won’t venture to quantify it but the hatred out there is wide and deep. What about you? Are you personally ticked off about it? Are you glad he is getting stripped of his medals and titles and is receiving public humiliation and scorn?
There are career cyclists who lost races, big races they might have won if the playing field had been level. The careers of these racers were irrevocably altered. No doubt many of them never saw the substantial financial rewards that might have come their way from corporate sponsors who pay big money to back the “winners”. Can you name anyone who took second place in all those years when Lance owned the Tour de France? I sure can’t. Those pros were personally and directly hurt by Lance’s fraud and deceit.
If you are among those who can name the second place finishers, then you must be an enthusiast of the sport. There are many. You may have your favorites among these able athletes, heroes even. Or you may have idolized this phenom named Lance Armstrong, a competitor of unsurpassed greatness. Now it all lays in ruins. What might have been is gone and past allegiances have had their foundations rocked. You too may feel you have been personally wronged.
Perhaps you were a supporter of Livestrong, the charity founded by Lance Armstrong to support those facing cancer. By all accounts, it is a well-managed and honorable operation. Yet it is hard for it not to be tainted by its inextricable ties to Lance Armstrong. Even his resignation from the board won’t bring distance enough for it to be untouched. Are you a Livestrong supporter who has felt betrayed?
Ok, that’s the world of those who “have a right” to feel hurt, wronged, and betrayed. (If you agree with that last statement, you may want to consider this alternate view.) But it doesn’t stop there. We love to have our heroes and when a hero falls the mob rushes in to finish the job. They kick and they spit, they curse and they vilify. Yes, it seems that everyone has a legitimate beef with Lance Armstrong and all he did was take from us.
But Lance Armstrong did something for you. It’s big and it’s important. Lance Armstrong has given you the opportunity to see yourself. He has done all this on a world stage, televised and translated into many languages. He went on Oprah for crying out loud. She took him apart, brick by brick. She got him to reveal everything he could bring himself to reveal to date.
Sure, there is more he could say and maybe he still will. Sure, he is still kind of delusional about it all but who wouldn’t be after all this? Lance Armstrong has shouldered an unmeasurable weight of embarrassment and contempt. What if your sins were discussed in all the major media outlets for years on end? What if you had to stand before perhaps the world’s greatest interviewer and spill your guts?
Let me be clear, I am not defending Lance Armstrong. But neither am I condemning him. It is not my place to be his defender or his prosecutor, his judge or his jury, his jailor or his executioner. Why would any one of us be so excited to take on any of those roles? The short answer is because shining the light on him (or anyone else) gets the light off of me.
Lance turned a corner in the worst of circumstances. The pressure must have been unimaginable. But he finally ‘fessed up. Some of you are probably psychoanalyzing why. Forget about why. People do things for all kinds of reasons, maybe reasons you think are not so pure. It doesn’t matter. It is a first step. He is broken and he will not be fixed in one penitent act. But it is a first act and it can be followed by another and then another. Without that first step, there is no redemption.
Do you want him to be redeemed? If your answer is “no”, Lance is a step ahead of you. You need to look into forgiveness. You need to look at why you are getting some kind of satisfaction or even glee out of condemning another human being. If you take that look as a result of this catastrophic fall, he will have done you some small service.
“Look at what Lance Armstrong has done for you.” click to tweet
Be grateful that you will likely never have to take a fall so great. Lance did it for you. So heal up, Lance. You will never again be what you once were. But then again, you never really were.
What did you learn? Tell us about it by commenting below.
Photo credit: Chris Gough