There’s an old saying about national news stories–These things come in threes.
This week in January 2013, we have so far witnessed a TV confession from former cycling champ, Lance Armstrong, who now admits to taking performance enhancing drugs, and we have a college athlete from Notre Dame saying he’s been victimized by a hoax about a girlfriend who apparently never existed. Both appear to have been a part of, or to have perpetuated falsehoods that in turn have helped elevate them for a chance at greater success.
Lance Armstrong said he couldn’t have won the Tour de France without having done doping.
We still don’t know the motivation around the Manti Te’o situation–he’s yet to talk to the press–and the longer he delays, the longer it suggests that he’s trying to get his story right. Saying his girlfriend was a hoax he didn’t know about isn’t playing out real well at the moment.
We used to hear about this sort of thing when someone put a falsehood on their resume and got a big time job and then we found out they never went to a certain school, or won a certain prize or the like.
But the stakes these days, particularly for athletes and celebs, have gotten so high and there is the apparent need for a dramatic story so fantastic in order to break through all the broadcast/social media noise, that at least in the case of Armstrong, and very likely Te’o, a story so good had to be concocted, a lie perpetuated and lived, in order to “level the playing field.”
Is anyone surprised by all this? I’m not.
The reason there isn’t a real life guy who flies around in a cape, leaping tall buildings, rescuing princesses, etc. is because that’s just not humanly possible. In many ways, we as a society seem to have forgotten that and we’ve gotten lost in the Hollywood misconceptions of what life really is about, what our limitations really are and who we should strive to be as people.
From news, to movies, even church services, we no longer as a society find the meaning in being who we are. All stories have to be entertaining to hold our ADD cultural attentions. To be somebody today we’ve been brainwashed into believing we have to be something we are not. And then when we find out these people who have been played up as amazing super humans are really just like you and me, we allow them to be torn away and to have an asterisk added by their names, or to have their awards stripped away, to have Cinderella brought back home to her mean step-sisters who then beat her mercilessly for wanting to wear a glass slipper.
But I also believe in the ones we see next to us every day.
The dad who works 17 hours a day and does three jobs to keep his family fed, who doesn’t fool around, and still finds time to help kids with their homework. The single-mom who is saving every penny she can to ensure that her kids get a great Christmas, while she could easily have put the money spent on things to help her, new clothes, new shoes, a new gym membership. The daughter who takes a job at a young age to help her parents so they don’t feel stressed out because they’re doing all they can to provide for the family and with the rising costs of gas, food, and living expenses, it’s getting harder and harder and harder.
Heroes are all around us. And they’re REAL. But maybe instead of focusing on the likes of Armstrong, Te’o and the like, we should look around the room we’re in and see who the real heroes are. If you watch long enough, you’ll see how real they really are.
Are You Number Three?
Are you living a lie like Armstrong and possibly Te’o?
That’s got to be hard, putting on airs each day to convince others of something you are not. Sure, we all do this to some extent, it’s part of modern culture and probably even human nature. But in these two cases, things clearly got out of hand. The lie took on a new life and it was just too hard to stop… What could they have done? What would you do? What should you do if you’re in the same spot?