A lie, is a lie, is a lie, is a lie
Sometimes there are revelations that are so shocking they shake you to your very core. It seems like, at the present time, October 2012, there have been two major revelations that have utterly shook me to my core.
The first is the revelation that the revered cyclist, 7 times Tour de France champion, recovered cancer sufferer and inspiration to millions of cancer patients, Lance Armstrong, was not only a willing participant but also a ring-leader in the most elaborate doping scam in the modern era of cycling.
The second is the revelation that Sir Jimmy Saville, deceased, much loved and trusted celebrity had sexually abused children over a period of around 50 years during his time working at the BBC and also afterwards as a patron of several high-profile charities and British institutes.
I've spent many hours over the past few weeks contemplating these events and I won't go into the details of each individual case. Needless to say there is a sufficient body of evidence available now and my mind is made up on both counts.
While, on the surface, both of these cases are really very different (i.e., different people, different circumstances, different consequences) I do believe that, at the core, there are some startling similarities:
- Both cases involve individuals who held positions of trust based upon their public personas e.g., both were involved in charity work and seen as an example for others to follow.
- Both received accolades which were essentially the highest honours that could be bestowed upon them in their respective fields e.g., many best male athlete awards for Lance and a Knighthood respectively for Jimmy.
- Both were liars, cheats and denied any wrongdoing when directly questioned. To this day Lance Armstrong still denies any wrongdoing despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Sir Jimmy Saville is now deceased but did deny any wrongdoing when interviewed by the media on a number of occasions.
- Both profited personally from their elevated status over a sustained period of time with the backing of colleagues, friends, family and also governing bodies/institutes who either knowingly turned a blind eye, colluded or were hoodwinked.
What conclusions can we draw from the above? Well, I'm fairly sure Lance Armstrong wasn't a paedophile and I'm also pretty sure Sir Jimmy Saville wasn't a drugs cheat but both were such convincing liars and both accomplished this by creating personas so compelling that they were able to deceive those around them, including themselves it seems.
So, what does this say about us ordinary people who were taken in by this? And what about those who were much closer to these individuals? Where do you draw the line of culpability? I honestly don't know but it seems that there are two types of people in this world. Those who are (easily) corruptible and those who are not.
All too often we, as outside observers, jump upon our moral high horses when we hear about such stories. We are very quick to judge those around us. Yet how many of us can truly say that we have never lied, never cheated or never deceived? I certainly can't. And when I considered the situations when I have lied previously then I understand that, from a certain perspective, I am no better or worse than these individuals.
Now don't get me wrong, what each of these individuals has done is despicable for different reasons. The damage caused by Sir Jimmy Saville's crimes will by felt for years, especially by the victims he abused. In contrast, Lance Armstrong's wrongdoings will probably be forgotten in a few months once the dust has settled. But, beneath the surface, both are fundamentally the same. It just so happened that one had a persuasion for young girls, the other had a persuasion for winning cycling races. No matter what the costs.
I urge everyone who reads this to look at themselves long and hard and reflect upon their own deeds in life. To those who can not accept the above, and I include those who still regard these individuals as "heroes", I'm afraid you are deluding yourself. And you leave yourself open to the same corruptibility, either by self-corruption or the corruption by those around us.
If there is any legacy that these individuals leave behind then it is that they broaden our awareness of corruption, the forms it can take and how deeply it can manifest. Please do your utmost not to become part of it.
PS: If Lance Armstrong does ever come clean and later chooses to reveal his story, I won't be reading it that's for sure. I do not wish for liars and cheats to profit further from their wrongdoings.