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It’s Not about Lance Armstrong
Mom with a View

It’s Not about Lance Armstrong

Don’t let his doping and lies allow you to become cynical and bitter.


I heard a story once about a Holocaust survivor who moved to Los Angeles and restarted his life. He married, built a successful business, and raised four sons. When his children were young, a man came from Israel collecting money for a chicken farm he was building there. This survivor was very grateful for his recent good fortune and he wanted to give back. He also wanted a piece of the land of Israel. So he made a small donation.

The fundraiser came back year after year and each time the man gave larger sums of money. Finally, when his boys had grown, he decided to take them to Israel to see their investment. Address in hand, they got off the plane and eagerly drove to the spot.

Imagine their dismay when all they saw was empty, ownerless land. When he recovered from his initial shock, this man turned to his boys and gave them some stunning advice. “Let’s make sure that we don’t use our disappointment today to become cynical and bitter. Let’s make sure that, despite this experience, we continue to give tzedaka – and to give it generously.”


I thought of this story as the sordid tale of Lance Armstrong’s doping and lies has been unfolding. It wasn’t his athletic prowess that we respected. It was his (seeming) determination and grit. It was his (supposed) gratitude. It was his (alleged) desire to help others and give back through his Livestrong Foundation. Just the title of his book – It’s Not About the Bike – suggested that he had wisdom and perspective.

Upon discovering that none of it is true, the temptation is to become cynical and bitter. Why believe in anyone or anything? Why believe in ourselves?

We have to work hard not to let the feet of clay of our public idols destroy our belief in mankind’s potential – and in our abilities. We have to be like the man in the story and spin his advice for our personal situations.

Yes, being good is difficult. Yes, temptation is everywhere. Yes, the desire for fame is powerful. But we have the ability to fight it. And there are good people who in fact do; they’re just not being interviewed on Oprah. No studio heads are producing shows about the wise, the kind, the good. They aren’t making newspaper headlines or tweeting about their accomplishments. But they’re there. And we can join their ranks.

The worst possible fallout from this Lance Armstrong debacle would be to lose hope, to give up on ourselves and others. I’m not going to give him that power. Not only is it not about the bike, it’s not about Lance Armstrong!

January 26, 2013

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The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 5

(5) Raphaelle Do Lern Hwei, January 30, 2013 5:07 AM

Guard Ourselves From Being Harmed By Others

I really like this article. We must keep ourselves from being cynical and write people off. I believe in encouraging whatever good I see in others. The family who donated generously to finance a start up chicken farm in Israel could see that their money is put into proper use by asking for financial reports (even charitable organisations have to issue financial reports). Lance Armstrong is a dedicated sports cyclist. HIs dependance on performance enhancing drugs should not deter others from taking up cycling (without the drugs of course). Just like the fact that it was an Orthodox Jew that assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitshak Rabin should not prevent people from exploring Judaism.

(4) rmr, January 29, 2013 6:29 PM

An American Psychopath

For me, the question is about how to protect yourself from the strongarm of a psychopath who has no feelings or conscience, or remorse, who repeatedly intimidated, threatened and harmed others who tried to be truthful. This is a man who for decades, actively sought to destroy others who opposed doping and disgracing the sport of cycling.

(3) nadima, January 29, 2013 5:34 PM

we must be humbled after we fall

More and more we see people doing negative things and lying about it.Its no more true self in our days,mr amstrong new he was taking enhance medications to be the best in the world,but who am I to judge and condenm him?Now he must accept the concecuences of his actions,learning each day that sport is not about fame and money is about love for doing it ,the rush of running,the mistic of been good of what you are doing..I hope he has a peaceful life for now on ,and at least be grateful to as ll the fans that liked and lived him,teaching childrenthis time the proper ways to win in any sport ,a new philosophy of true honesty in his heart,without the bitterness of lyes.....I pray that he is happy,and forget the pain and public humilliation he received,just be himself thanking God he is alive,well,with2eyes to see and 2strong legs to walk..we must be humbled after we fall from the mountain,get,up,shake,up,and,live.

(2) Anonymous, January 29, 2013 5:14 PM

Eyes on the kernel of truth

Thank you. You raise a very important matter. It's easy to declare that the "idol has feet of clay" and therefore I'm absolved from doing good deeds, giving tzedoka etc. It's essential to remember that no matter the perfidy of others we must each take responsibility for ourselves and out actions.

(1) Barry Allento, January 29, 2013 3:54 PM

Right on

I had been inspired by Lance Armstrong. He was a mantra as I dealt with my cancer; a hope that I too would survive. I was shocked by his deception, and felt betrayed. This article renews my faith, and put in words what I know is important, but hard to accept; that I shouldn't let one person's actions destroy the good that exists. Thank you for this I

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