Livestrong – the Problem with Heroes

I love cycling, and after losing over 85kg, I actually enjoy participating in the sport and not just watching the various Tours on TV. Over the years I have followed the cycling and the Tour that tops them all, Le Tour de France… I used to watch the tour with my Dad when I lived at home. We would sit up together and discuss the stages, riders, teams, conditions – everything… In the years I lived at home we watched Lance ride his way to many, many victories.

Right now in the midst of all the controversy that is surrounding Mr Armstrong I don’t know what to feel. I am numb. I like many, many others I believed that Lance did not dope, part of me desperately still wants to believe this. There has not been any blood test evidence to my knowledge that shows he did, but there is evidence in the form of testimony from team mates and those in the inner circles. I am still not sure how I feel about the way it was collected or motives people may have… But all that aside Lance has been stripped of his titles.

I have seen many, many, many hateful comments on FB and other sites directed towards Lance, and I get it – I don’t participate in it, but I understand that people are hurt, they feel betrayed and that their trust has been broken. If I am honest, like many I feel a little foolish for believing all the prior claims of innocence, but part of me is still holding onto that; and here is where it gets complicated.

In Australia we have a habit of cutting people down to size. It is called “Tall Poppy Syndrome”. If someone is seen in Australia as getting a too cocky or confident, Aussie’s have a habit of turning on them. What I see happening to Lance is partly this , but also there is more to it. The issue is that people trusted him. He said I beat cancer, I trained hard, I got my body into shape, I can win, I am a winner, I am an example. And Yes he did all those things.

Using Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED’s) doesn’t change the facts that he beat cancer, trained like a machine or got into shape – but it does change his wins, and that he traded on those wins to earn money from endorsements and position himself as an example.

Personally to me Lance is an example, PED’s or not. He did beat cancer, he did train hard and drugs or no drugs he was, and is, an amazing athlete. He did amazing work with setting up Livestrong and providing hope and help to millions of cancer survivors around the world. Sending a message of hope and health and being an example of this has not changed in my eyes. I won’t hate on Lance and I won’t call him names, and this is the reason. I placed him on that pedestal, I put him up there in my own eyes, and this is my point…Heroes are people too!

What, you cry! – Yep it’s true, I know it is tough to believe, but they are. Heroes are flawed human beings just like the rest of us. I have made some mistakes in my life, Thank God most people don’t know about them. Lance made some mistakes, and for me that does not negate all the good in his life. I can’t call him names, I can’t hate him, because as a human, I am just like him – flawed and imperfect. I have heard all the arguments about role models being held to a higher standard, and I get that – but seriously at the end of the day he is just a person with thoughts, feelings and open to temptation, just like me.

I am disappointed if it’s true, I am sad, angry, numb – all that business. The problem with heroes is we expect them to be perfect in every way, we expect them to be human beings without flaws – in fact we demand it… and then we get pissed off when they don’t meet our expectations.

The problem with heroes is we expect them to be super human, so when they fall short of our expectations we experience a range of emotions, we get disappointed, angry and hurt. So what do we do with that – The Human race will always look for a champion of a cause, a hero…Perhaps the trick is to look at people around us and be inspired by them, but not idolize them. Perhaps the trick is to live our lives in the best light possible, become our own heroes, an example to ourselves, proud of ourselves; and whilst we can be inspired by others, encouraged by others let’s not lose sight of the fact that being a human is a messy business.

Till next time – Lin xox

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