I just watched Oprah Winfrey's much publicized interview with Lance Armstrong. I have not followed Lance Armstrong's fall from grace religiously, so before I watched it, all I really knew, was that he had won the Tour de France seven times, and that he late last year had been stripped of his titles because of doping allegations that he fiercely denied.
I watched the interview because I was curious. What could this man say to excuse his behavior? Not as much with regards to the doping, more with regards to his sudden change from denying to admitting to the allegations. I wasn't as interested in the allegations that he had used performance enhancing drugs, because hasn't doping in cycling just been the worst kept secret for years?
During the interview, I thought Lance Armstrong seemed honest and sorry. There were questions he wasn't truly able to answer, but in most instances of this, the reason was that he didn't want to implicate others who had also done wrong. This, I thought was rather decent of him. Did he also seem to have been a "Jerk", like he himself put it, and a bully? Sure. Did he seem like he would have rather not gotten caught? Yes he did, but he was honest about that, something I found to be rather brave.
Before I go on, let me make it absolutely clear: In no way do I condone doping, the use of performance enhancers or making use of any unfair advantages in sports, politics, business or life... for Lance Armstrong or anybody else. That is not what this piece is about. I believe we should all strive to be the best and most decent people we can be and be the best role models for others we can be. But we are ALL flawed and this is what we should remember when we jump on to our high horses and pass judgment on others.
Because try to put yourself in Lance Armstrong's shoes, live the life he has lived under the same circumstances, and then say that you would not, at any point, have been weak like he was. You can't. You may not have been as weak as he was, you may not have made the same choices in life that he did, but we are ALL flawed and weak at times, so in his shoes, you would have most likely made some wrong turns as well.
Put yourself in the shoes of Martha Stewart, Jude Law, Hugh Grant, Amy Winehouse, Charlie Sheen, Tiger Woods, Robert Downey Junior, Katie Price... the list of public personas and celebrities who at one time or another have fallen from grace, or made more or less questionable life decisions, is looong. And for all of us mere mortals who do not live privileged lives, it is the easiest thing in the world to get on a high horse and judge them, but what does that make all those who judge? Would they never do anything wrong? Have they never? Of course they have!
To all of those who judge from the comfort of their own armchairs or Twitter accounts, think back to the times you did something you shouldn't have, to the times when you were weak and gave in to temptation, pressure, responsibilities or otherwise and GET OFF YOUR HIGH HORSE! Judging those who do wrong publicly, does not make your own mistakes in life smaller or less important. You may not be a celebrity bike rider, a multi millionaire or a cancer survivor in charge of a significant charity, but your own mistakes in life affect the lives of your children, your family or your friends. Spend some time being a better person in your own life, less time judging celebrities for being human and making mistakes.
People like Lance Armstrong and others who break the law or the rules should absolutely be punished. By the law and governing bodies, not by their fellow flawed human beings who, given the same set of circumstances, would no doubt make mistakes as well.