Day 326: Don’t Stone Armstrong

Lance Armstrong.

I’m going to bet that (providing you know who this is) that name conjures up all sorts of feelings. I’m going to bet that, had I preceded a post with his name at the beginning of this blog challenge, those feelings would be extremely different. Interesting, isn’t it?

For those of you that don’t know who he is, Lance Armstrong won the iconic Tour De France cycling competition a record seven times, after being diagnosed with and overcoming cancer. Armstrong has recently admitted to taking performance enhancing drugs after very publicly denying it in the press. The story is a little longer than that, but that’s about as concise as I can get it!

Frankly, I find this whole media frenzy quite unsettling. And honestly, I find it really difficult to speak badly of Armstrong. Don’t get me wrong, I am immensely disappointed that such an inspirational figure in the world today could suffer such a public fall and that Armstrong went to such great lengths to deny the truth, but who am I to judge him? Have I done things that I’m ashamed of? Yes. Have I tried to cover my weaknesses by not telling the truth before? Definitely. Do I feel the guilt for that? Unequivocally. How then, could I possibly comment on a man like Lance Armstrong? Jesus himself comments on a situation where someone messes up in a passage that we often read but don’t actually act on:

1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:1-7

I don’t want to be the type of person that looks for the darkness and flaws in others. If I did that, maybe others would look more closely at the darkness and flaws in me, which wouldn’t be good for anyone. Trust me. As far as the Lance Armstrong situation goes, there is no denying that he cheated. But when we talk about ‘performance enhancing drugs’, let’s be clear. He wasn’t bitten by a radioactive spider! He wasn’t made into some sort of superhuman. Armstrong didn’t train any less or push himself any less. It wasn’t like those video games of my childhood where you entered a simple code and gained invulnerability. He didn’t suffer any less from cancer before taking on the Tour De France. He might not have gone about it in the right way, but he still worked hard to be where he is now.

In no way am I going to sit here and condone Armstrong’s actions. Equally, I refuse to vilify him. I was hugely inspired by the sheer determination and athleticism of the man a year ago. I am still hugely inspired by his achievements – only now, I’m reminded that he is just a flawed human being, like me. If anything, that gives me a little more hope than I had a year ago. I need all the hope I can get.

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