I watched with great interest last week as Lance Armstrong came clean to Oprah Winfrey on national television over a two-day made for TV extravaganza. We’ve seen this before with the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Mark McGwire, other athletes, celebrities, and politicians. The mea culpa is the first step in gaining reconciliation.
We as a nation have already shown we are willing to forgive. Time and better behavior (at least publicly) tend to erase the public perception over time. But from a more macro level, it’s not so easy. In Armstrong’s case, he has admitted to shredding lives of former teammates, sponsors, friends, and family. At 41 years old, he has a long time to live with this on his conscience. I hope for his sake he is really remorseful and can make real amends with those who were most damaged.
Maybe the bigger question for us, who don’t share the international limelight of Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, and Bill Clinton, is how good are we at reconciling with others in our lives. We may not make the same mistakes or behave as boorishly on a such a grand stage. However, all of us have undoubtedly made mistakes that have hurt others personally and professionally. When we are the culprit, how would we like to be dealt with? Are we truly sorry and prepared to make amends? Are we remorseful being interviewed not by Oprah Winfrey, but by the one we hurt? And, how gracious are we when we have been asked to forgive?
It’s very easy to ridicule a figure like Lance Armstrong, or others whom I’ve mentioned above. The way I see it, “there but for the grace of God go I.” We have no idea how we would have acted if we had been thrust into the limelight with power, money, opportunity, and adulation. It’s simple to say we would have not succumbed to the power. Maybe if things had been different for Whitney Houston, Chris Farley, Barry Bonds, Tiger Woods, Heath Ledger, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, and Lance Armstrong (to name just a very few) and they never reached the lofty heights they did, they might be either alive or living a very different life.
Bottom line – being someone who is good at forgiving and asking for forgiveness requires humility, honesty, and perspective. It also allows for hope…
© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
This week’s quote –
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.