We love survivor stories. That is why Lance Armstrong has occupied a special place in the hearts and minds of millions of people. It was one thing for him to overcome an aggressive cancer which hit his lungs and brain, but to also rise to the top of the world cycling stage and win 7 Tour de France titles was enough to inspire a generation. So it is with wrenching sadness and disappointment that we have now learned from Lance’s confession to Oprah that he was doping during his title wins. What becomes of the inspiration he had on us? Lance is not the only hero who has been found doping. Earlier this month no one was voted into the Major League Baseball hall of fame for the first time since 1996. The players who were considered shoe-ins have now been held on suspicion of drug use: from Sammy Sosa to Roger Clemens to Barry Bonds, and from the admission of home run giant Mark McGwire.
What draws us to heroes?
There is something undeniable about the influence that heroes have on us whether from the world of sports, movies, music, or literature. They hold out to us a greater vision of living, a hope that we can transcend our limitations and taste immortality. I was filled with excitement in the summer of 1998 watching Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa compete to beat the MLB home run record. It was as though the banner they waved while doing it was “believe the impossible”. When I later heard that McGwire admitted to doping while Sosa was widely suspected of the same, it exposed an inconvenient truth to me:
Our heroes are flawed.
We may know they are flawed but we shove this truth to the side and don’t think about it. Then moments arise when our heroes come out in the open and reveal that they are flawed just like us.
Are we left with cynicism then?
I don’t think so. You may doubt that there is someone out there who is a hero that will not let us down. However, in my journey, I have found someone who lived such a pure life that not one of his enemies could bring any charge against him. He is One who came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. Instead of dying only for his closest friends, he died also for the sake of his enemies, praying to his Father that they be forgiven even as he was unjustly killed. My hero is he who though rich, became poor for us so that through his poverty we might become rich in him!
There is a hero who won’t let us down.
What are your thoughts? Do you have a hero who won’t let you down?