Open Forum: Fall from grace
Posted: January 23, 2013
I will admit it has been very hard for me to stay silent on the whole Lance Armstrong ordeal these past few weeks. Many have known of my quest for the truth regarding Lance and my deep suspicion for years that he was, in fact, a doper, a liar, and a cheat.
Most of my suspicions were borne out of Lance leaving his family back in 2003. Coupled with this was Armstrong's bullying treatment of any who questioned his authenticity. That many people could not be lying. So through the principle of simple deduction, one must conclude that it was, in fact, Armstrong who practiced deceit — and on a whole new level.
It is a slippery slope. One lie almost certainly leads to another, and then another. And then another. Before you know it, the lie has overtaken all forms of reason. Subsequently, the infection is typically not isolated to one area of a person’s life.
Lost, in this day and age, is the art of treasuring and preserving one’s honor. Our culture has become so easily accustomed to discarding the last sliver of our God-given and once-cherished virtue of honor or integrity. It is a struggle to which all usually succumb. But, the fight is never not worth fighting.
One of my all-time favorite movies is “Rob Roy.” Liam Neeson depicts a Scottish folk hero, Robert Roy MacGregor, who values one thing above all else — his honor. He makes no apologies for this deep allegiance to his honor on his crusade to defend and recapture his good name.
For years, like many fellow Chicagoans (and Americans, for that matter), I was one of Michael Jordan’s biggest fans. The guy was an amazing talent and fierce competitor who strived to be the best.
Like many, I admired MJ. Then, he left Juanita. In addition, the stories of his massive infidelity began to filter out into the public. Many in the media protected Jordan. His legend was infectious and influential — much like Armstrong’s.
For me, I could no longer hold MJ up on that pedestal. Honoring your wife and your marriage vows is not a huge standard to live by. Celebrity may corrupt, but it is still ultimately a choice in how you live and what you do with your own reputation and name.
I can certainly understand those who wanted to lift up Lance as this near-mythical figure or hero. He seemed to be such an inspiration for many. Overcoming cancer is no small feat, and then attaining the pinnacle of arguably the toughest athletic competition in the world is beyond amazing.
It was inspiring for sure. The sad truth, however, is that his merit was earned through synthetic means. Sure, he pedaled the bike. But, there is no denying the morphing of his physical body. He was a new and improved man. Perhaps even a bionic man.
I will not pretend that I am in any way better than Lance. I am not. I am as flawed as they come, and I have made way too many mistakes myself. I am therefore sograteful for a loving and forgiving God and wife.
I am a work-in-progress, and I continue to strive to be a better husband, father, and friend. But, we all must understand one thing: At the end of our lives, choices ultimately define us.
So what, you may ask, fueled my disdain for Lance and his petulant attitude and his pursuit of destroying any who questioned him? Well, maybe it was this longing for something better from our heroes and the role models that kids see and try to emulate every day. They deserve better — for their future and for our society in general.
We live in a culture of deceit and corruption. We have corrupted our children beyond repair in many cases. Then again, my disgust for Lance very well could have been a reflection of personal struggles with my own pride.
At the same time, I certainly cannot discount my own family's trials in molding my perspective on this issue. For years, my wife and I have tried to make sense of our son’s plethora of developmental and physical challenges. And for years, we have watched our Isaac work so hard for such little gains.
He is a warrior in his own right. I will never forget the head of Genetics at the U.Va. exclaim to us, when Isaac was 6 months old, that he would be shocked if Isaac lived past 2. Isaac is 10 today.
There are, however, days that I still mourn for Isaac and my lost dreams. I will not play catch or share many other activities with my son. I am OK with that. But it certainly gives me a greater appreciation for those who overcome sometimes immeasurable odds. And, it gives Sarah and me cause for great celebration with each and every victory Isaac achieves. He truly earns those accolades; there are never any shortcuts with him.
So, where do we go from here? I would submit that it is time for a revival of sorts. It is time for the virtue of honor to be reinstalled as a hallmark standard worthy of respect and attainment. It is time for our nation and this world to return to the Author of morality. In short, it is time for Biblical principles to be refreshed in our hearts and our classrooms.
It is also time to take notice of someone, anyone, who struggles with the most basic things. It could be a paraplegic or a severely burned veteran. Or it could be a Downs Syndrome child with an infectious smile. Take the time; give them encouragement. A word of praise could mean more than seven Yellow Jerseys combined.
Victor Rogers is a resident of Winchester.