Lance Armstrong and Fish Stories

livestrong_logoWe should not be surprised to hear Lance Armstrong actually used performance-enhancing drugs in a sport permeated with such. In a strange and rather bizarre interconnected way almost everyone is Jonah, meaning that everyone has his or her own personal ‘whale story.’ All of us have a story, whether large or small. But regardless, we all have “fish stories.”

From a Biblical perspective, I cannot imagine a divine and peaceful God would command anyone to offer his son as a sacrifice (Genesis 22:5); that Jonah spent three days in a whale and did not at least have a major case of fish breath; that two female bears really emerged from a nearby woods and mauled 42 children (2 Kings 2:23); that God was so irked by Onan that He has to kill Onan for not having sex with his brother’s wife (Genesis 38:8-10); that an owner unwilling to let his male lodger be raped but it’s ok to offer up his own daughter instead (Judges 19:22-30), etc., etc., etc.

In today’s world, if any one of our children came in love like David and wanted to marry Saul’s daughter (1 Samuel 18:27), but needed to cut off 100 foreskins, most of us would say, “What the hell?” If another came to us and claimed he met God, but was shown (i.e., exposed) only God’s back parts (Exodus 33:23), some might claim there’s a pedophile in the neighborhood.

So just like Lance Armstrong, we all have a “fish story.” Lance Armstrong’s is about truth: his image versus his world’s image. In some way, we unjustly combine everything the man has done. But personally, all of us need to separate the man from his sports career.  Somewhere inside Lance Armstrong is a man who has told some big fish stories about his racing career and somewhere in there is the man who created the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The second man is the one whom battled cancer, fought the good fight and became a solid advocate for cancer treatment and research.

So in light of today’s admission that Lance Armstrong took performing enhancing drugs, must we destroy everything about the man?  Should Lance Armstrong be denounced for his lies of performance-enhancing drugs? Of course! Will Mr. Armstrong suffer both personally and legally for the coverup? Sure, you bet! But must Armstrong’s entire life be laid waste in the process? No!

If we must denounce and tear apart someone based upon a whale story, then President Clinton’s, “I did not have sex with that woman” is at the top. Yet former President Clinton is a highly respected statesman and advocate. The Reverend Jesse Jackson remains highly respected even though he fathered an illegitimate son. Bill Cosby is still a respected entertainer. Does everything General David Petraeus did go for not simply because he resigned as the Director of the CIA? Should we negate all the positive things Newt Gingrich did as Representative (R-GA) since admitting to having had an affair with an intern while leading the impeachment of Bill Clinton for perjury?

Why can we not denounce the false while honoring the good? Case in point, Michael Milken. Milken was indicted on 98 counts of racketeering and securities fraud and pled guilty to securities and reporting violations. Milken received ten years in prison. But Milken was also part founder of the Milken Family Foundation (MFF), supporting medical research and education. The MFF has awarded a total of more than $60 million to more than 2,500 teachers.

As for Clinton, Clinton was appointed to head the Asia Tsunami relief effort. After Hurricane Katrina, Clinton joined with George H. W. Bush to establish the Bush-Clinton Tsunami Fund in January 2005, and the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund. Clinton also created the William J. Clinton Foundation to address issues of global importance.

At the end of the day, like many of us, both Milkin, Clinton and Armstrong created some really awful “fish stories.” But each of them has created some really wonderful organizations. Each became a better person and humanity itself benefited greatly. In light of the fact each of us probably has a fish tale or two … or three … or more, I suggest we forgive the man Lance Armstrong and allow the LIVESTRONG Foundation to carry-on it’s work.

The LIVESTRONG Foundation fights to improve the lives of people affected by cancer — today as they navigate the financial, practical and emotional challenges that accompany cancer, and tomorrow as they move beyond the disease. The LIVESTRONG Foundation is thriving and must continue its mission-critical work in the years ahead.

Buddhists often refer to life as a river. In life, rivers continually flow. Thus, the river, from moment to moment is never the same. Likewise, every man is a river. The Lance Armstrong most of us want to spit upon is no longer here. In truth, many of us look just like him, but we too are not same from moment to moment. Much has happened to Mr. Armstrong in these past ten years, let alone the past twenty-four hours! All of us have flowed so much.

So Mr. Armstrong, I cannot forgive you because I have no grudge against you. May your foundation, LIVESTRONG, live strong!



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