Lessons From Lance
There’s no getting away from the fact that the world is engrossed with the Lance Armstrong saga of drug cheating within the cycling world. If I’m honest I feel somewhat silly even writing something about this story as I’ve never watched the Tour de France and wouldn’t know one end of a bicycle from the other. Yet I have to say I’ve been drawn into this web of lies and fascinated by the depth of his deception and flawed character. David Walsh writes, ‘He was a cheat. And his doping was aggravated by the way he intimidated and tried to destroy those who tried to show his wrong doing’ (The Australian, pg. 19, Jan 21, 2013).
If I was someone who hadn’t read Jeremy Griffith’s writings and explanations of the human condition I think my opinion would simply be that Lance Armstrong is a psychopathic bully with an addiction to winning—game over. But with an understanding of the human condition and an awareness of the deep struggle that goes on in all humans I can look on at the situation differently. Don’t worry, I’m not about to say that his actions are justified in any way, but having a clear understanding of why people, me included, behave the way they do allows me to view everything in my life completely differently. If I am to be totally honest I’m attracted to this story as it somehow makes me feel ‘good’, that I would not be capable of behaving the way he does and living the lie that he has. Then again, if I had experienced the kind of childhood that Armstrong has and if I had his extraordinary athletic ability and strength, chances are I probably could, couldn’t I? Human nature means I live with the same paradoxical riddle of behaving badly even though I know I should be good, making decisions based on my ego over what is morally right just as Armstrong did. But it’s far easier for me to see this in Armstrong’s story, than my own. Our denial of the human condition is so blinding it is difficult to see it in ourselves. I’m ‘tricked’ into thinking that examples like this one are extreme, I find it hard to draw parallels to my life. Yet what I’ve come to understand is that my life is riddled with all kinds of dysfunction and idiosyncrasies that I too have taken up in response to living under the duress of the human condition.
Jeremy’s explanation of the human condition answers the question of why humans, each of us, are competitive, aggressive and selfish. He writes,
“The agony of being unable to truthfully answer this question of why we are the way we are, divisively instead of cooperatively behaved, has been the particular burden of human life. It has been our species’ particular affliction or condition—our human condition” (Section 1:3 of Freedom: Expanded Book 2).
Being able to understand ourselves and a story like Armstrong’s is something we will be able to do naturally, automatically when applying understanding to our human condition afflicted state.
“...the TRANSFORMATION is achieved through what is ultimately the only real and lasting way it could be: by satisfying our conscious thinking human mind with first-principle-based, biological understanding of why we humans are wholly worthwhile and meaningful beings” (Section 1:12 of Freedom: Expanded Book 2).
At the end of Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Armstrong she asked him what he thought the moral to his story was. He seemed caught off-guard by this question. No doubt he has a long journey ahead of him before he is able to be at all honest and insightful about his actions and their consequences. In fact I doubt he will ever be able to be fully honest about it all until he discovers the full compassionate understanding of the human condition which explains and defends all humans. However, even without the explanation, I was pleased to see that Oprah answered her own question by saying that ‘the truth will set you free’. Wow! Yes!—the truth will set us all free, and the truth is here right now! Jeremy has given us the whole truth about the journey of humans and consciousness. Living with this information unlocks that part of the brain that defends humans and our incredible journey from an instinctive to a fully conscious species. Armstrong is a cheat, but even he is lucky enough to have the potential to be transformed, we all have the chance now to cycle down the new road of understanding and honesty.
While I am on the topic of lying, I thought it was worth linking to Jeremy’s essay from The Book of Real Answers to Everything! titled Why do people lie?