I am still thinking about Lance Armstrong and the whole sad business of finally admitting guilt and his need to apologize. But, getting to today’s point, how about letters of forgiveness? Does Lance Armstrong deserve one? Sure. Anyone, as it turns out, is a candidate for forgiveness. Depends on the exceptional level of compassion possible in this world.
Although cheating by people who present themselves as heroic takes a toll on those who count on authenticity, I do not think that Lance Armstrong acted with the goal of hurting anyone. He acted to bolster himself. Big difference. Poor guy, after a difficult enough start in this world, he reached hard-won heights in cycling and then suffered treacherous health hardships. And, he has helped cancer survivors. So, how do we balance all this and write a letter of forgiveness?
Forgiveness is a very sophisticated business, sometimes near impossible, and doing it well a real art. A really good letter of forgiveness has to be done carefully and dearer without the words “I forgive you.” No matter how hard it may be to write a letter of understanding instead of rehashing the offense in order to clarify what you forgive, remember, you can’t bury the hatchet with the handle sticking out. How big-hearted it is to write, instead, a letter that details the strengths of someone whose weakness trumped strength, a letter that says you know the best of someone who has crossed over some line and can focus that part.
Personally, I would much prefer that monsters are 100% monstrous and that models of excellence are 100% virtuous. I mean, really, who wants to spend valuable time sifting out the good in the bad or vice-versa? But, alas, people are complicated and sometimes otherwise exceptional people slip in their desire for money, love, respect, importance and the hope of immortality.
Forgiving by letter is not only a lasting gift of letting someone off the hook for regretful behavior, it is a permanent record of your talent for compassion and a chance for you not to drown in anger or get stuck in the quicksand of feeling righteous. Owning up to a transgression is a sign of strength. So is forgiveness.
Write those letters. I’m just sure you’ll feel great when you slip that envelope into the mailbox. Okay, I’m done with the Lance Armstrong scandal. I wish him better days, and I’ve got other things to do right now.
From me to you with love in the air,
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