My heart goes out to Lance Armstrong. Not because I feel he is not deserving of the backlash he is receiving for his behavior. No, I empathize with him, because I know how it feels to one day wake up to the emotional reality of just how badly you’ve behaved and caused others to suffer. I know how it feels to have the slow drip of harsh reality burn regret and guilt into your heart. I know what it feels like to be caught by the truth of “it’s not a matter of if, but when.” I know what it feels like to have your egocentric arrogance ripped asunder to stand alone before the Karmic mirror of cause and effect.
He is not innocent. He must and will pay. Yet I cannot throw any “he should have” stones. I clearly know what it is like to know what I was doing was wrong and to do it anyway. I clearly know what it is like to weave and defend a tight and longstanding web of deceit, to one day watch it unravel. I clearly know what it is like to want anyone to believe that I was, at last, telling the truth, even when I was not yet being completely honest with myself, so I could not be completely honest with others. I clearly know what it feels like to want desperately to be forgiven, and yet not feel deserving of that forgiveness.
Lance Armstrong is a public representation of our selfish human ego when allowed to run free, without ethical or moral boundaries. Without establishing and upholding a personal positive standard of behavior, he allowed himself to act with complete disregard to the consequences of how his actions would eventually impact himself and countless others. He was blinded by the egocentric justifications that everyone is doing it, I am invincible, I will never be caught, I am entitled, and I must cheat to win. Now, in hindsight, he is developing a clearer vision about what it really means to win at life.
But will we use this man’s pain, humiliation, and public chastising to turn the mirror of assessment in our own direction? We are not innocent bystanders. The corruption, cheating, bullying, and attacking those who blow the whistle on bad behavior have become a common an accepted part of society. No matter if it is in sports, politics, finances, government, or our personal lives, each of us who falls is a call for all of us to face the lack of moral and ethical standards within our societies. Mr. Armstrong is only one of many whose bad behavior is a sign for us to look closely at the cultures we have created and are tolerating. Until we do, the faces and names will change but the parade of corruption will increase.
To stop it, we must bravely make the individual decision that being a person of high moral and ethical character is what winning actually looks like. When the majority of us courageously lead the way toward this higher standard, honesty, fair play, and cooperation will become as prevalent as their negative counterparts are now. Lance Armstrong is coming to the realization that he never really won through cheating, lying, or abusing others. And, we must also learn that neither will we.
No matter what anyone says about the motivations for his confession, I am proud of him for bravely beginning to own up to his past. I refuse to limit him by it. I also understand that his awakening and assuming responsibility for negative behavior will be a process. It was for me and countless others. I remain optimistic that he will continue to move toward accepting full responsibility and culpability. If not, he will be destined to live forever in the hell he has created. Honesty is the only key that will set him free to achieve the 180 degree change I believe he genuinely desires, for his life and the lives of the people he cares for.
I will continue to hold the intent that he finds the courage and self-respect necessary to become and remain completely honest, as any of us must do if we are to permanently change the course of our lives for the better. I will patiently watch how he chooses to behave from now on, because I am excited about the possibility this man has to rise from the ashes, to choose this time to unwaveringly stand on the side of the highest ethical and moral behavior. I am rooting for him to do just that.