Diestrong

Famous people often display amplified characteristics of the culture in which they grew. The water and ground of the culture allows them to flourish when they might otherwise have withered and died. Lady Gaga is an example of this idea. Most people would admit that she is weird and would not personally do the things that she does, however, she has sold millions of songs and is a cultural icon. How does this happen if it is not something that has fertilized the surface of our culture? If you had a time machine and took her back 100 years, would she even have 10 people that would be caught dead admiring to her? The fact she can survive and even thrive in the current culture means that it is indeed our culture where she was planted and watered. It is not that she is the only weird one, but that we all are weird to some degree.

Lance Armstrong is no different. He believes in winning at all costs and will lie, cheat, and bully people to get there. However, all of our indignation should be not be directed at him but at ourselves for being the same way ourselves. Lance is not the anomaly that we all wish he was so that our consciences could enjoy revelling in our own righteousness. How often have you heard someone say that they don't have fun unless they win? It seems that most people play sports to beat others and not because they enjoy competing with others in sport. Why do we think of the person who comes in second place as the first loser? This is evidence of a win at all cost attitude. Lying is also evident in our lives by the number of people who are willing to call into work sick even though they are perfectly fine. Or how about the number of people who are willing to steal music and movies because nobody will find out? Bullying is also common place, especially in the media. Anybody, with a different perspective is vilified and ridiculed. Look at how many times Piers Morgan asks evangelical Christians their viewpoint on gay marriage knowing the consequences that will follow? Many people have commented that Lance Armstrong is a sociopath but it seems that we are all sociopaths. Lance Armstrong is only an amplification of our own characteristics.

A seed is planted in the ground to grow. If there is no ground the seed will never reach fruition. Lance Armstrong would not exist, as he is today, if the ground for him to grow had never been provided. Lance's brand was to live strong but in the end he received the death penalty with regards to the only thing he wants to do, which is to compete. Everything he worked for has been dug up and will soon be burned. This is a lesson to all of us. If we continue to behave in the same way that Lance did/does we will share his outcome. Like Lance our actions will eventually catch up to us and may even affect the people we care about most.

Life is not so much how you live but how you die. Diestrong.




Comments

  1. Rodney,

    Your comments and thoughts are always so deep and well thought out. I admire your thought process and analytical ability to think of the bigger picture.

    Interesting take on Lance and seeing a parallel with Lady Gaga. I fail to see the connection with the rest of us however. Lance while he may be a magnification of a lot of our deep subconscious. It is the the part that we do not act on. The part that although it may feel good to win rather than lose, we know that it is the action of competition that is the most rewarding (for most of us). The part that tells us not to find a friend to be a ref or not to steal from another person to get ahead. Our experiences and genetics make up who we are. For Lance, his terrible cancer battle shaped his subconscious to ignore the 'good'; the part that normally wins the decision battle (in our head) with the 'rest of us'. He deserves much more than just not competing in any sport. He caused so much stress, turmoil and distrust etc. The only good he did was give hope and strength for his cancer patients. It will be interesting to see how history will look upon him. Either as someone who helped enlighten the world to drugs in sport and a huge philanthropist. Or someone who just fought because he was good at it and happen to fall into the charity scene and had to cheat a lie until his jig was up.

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    1. It is great to see that somebody actually reads this blog!

      The point I am trying to make is that our experiences are largely dictated by our culture and our culture is made up of people, namely, us. I am not saying that every single person contributed directly to Lance's behavior but that as a whole we enabled it. For example, the win-at-all-cost attitude is not unique to Lance but is prevalent throughout our culture. We admire people like Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and Lance Armstrong who only care about winning. Lying is also something that we don't really care about. Bill Clinton clearly lied to us about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky and nobody really cared because it was not seen to affect his ability to carry out his job.

      It is not only the zeitgeist that affected Lance but also individuals along the way who never blew the whistle on him (Sheryl Crow, George Hincapie, etc...). They were probably afraid of what he would do but that is only because they couldn't trust that justice would be done properly and they would be the ones to suffer. I am sure that there were people who knew Lance well before he ever got famous that could have stopped him as well. If we all think the way Lance behaves is despicable then why did so many people never stop him when they knew better. We are not just talking about a few people but hundreds of people who were invested in these lies just as much as Lance. Sponsors, friends, teammates, governing bodies and many others all had a part to play in enabling Lance.

      If we are honest with ourselves, the proposition that we don't act like Lance may have less to do with winning the "decision battle" as it has to do with opportunity. We all lie just not as arrogantly. We all want to win but just not as much. This is what I mean by celebrities being amplifications of the culture at large. They are not aliens to our culture but grew out of it.

      The fact that Lance will be remembered in any sense and the people he rode over will just be footnotes should tell us that something is not right with our value system and consequently that something is not right with us.

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