Americans love a winner. We hear that Lance Armstrong is a six-time winner of the Tour de France annual bicycle race. Good for him – sort of. In the process of all Lance’s winning, Lance (and his family) lost the Tour de Life.
We all have heard the story: Lance survived a grueling regimen of chemotherapy to treat testicular cancer only to go on to win six consecutive Tours.
Amazingly, Lance, unmarried at the time, even had the foresight to place some semen in a sperm bank in hopes that he might have children in the future. Shortly after he finished the chemo treatments, he met his future ex-wife, Kristin. They married in May of 1998 and split sheets and announced pending divorce in February of 2003. In the wake are three children, Luke, Isabelle, and Grace.
There is no doubting that Lance has determination, drive, and stamina – at least when it comes to goals that are inanimate as opposed to intimate. Apparently his marriage, home, and children were not valuable enough to him to invest the necessary time and energy to secure them. His marriage lasted fewer years than his Tour winning streak.
Oh, the media help his public image promoting that he has an “amicable divorce” and that he truly cares about the children because he is willing to skip a try for the gold in the 2004 Athens Olympics “because he wants to spend the summer with his children in the United States” even though that means he will still be groping his main squeeze, pop star Cheryl Crow. (Gee! One summer in four years? Thanks, Dad!)
Lance had the foresight to plan to have children, but apparently not to raise them.
The profile on Kristin is less rich in detail. It is reported that she was a “public relations executive.” I have no idea whether she continued in this work after her children were born. There certainly was no “need” for a two-income household. Lance says that Kristin and he are closer now than before. The question I always have about these kind of self-serving, made-for-public-consumption remarks is: If you are getting along so well now, why couldn’t you do it before?
Media reports tell us of Lance jetting here and there continuously for his sponsors (of which there are many) and for charity fundraisers, and how, even when not training, Lance is always in demand. Apparently Luke, Isabelle, and Grace’s demands are too remote to demand his attention – except this summer, sort of.
Lance Armstrong is the Modern American Hero. He is selfish and self-absorbed. He works harder than anyone on the planet – for what he wants. (Proof that this is a trait of a modern American hero is the oft refrain of friends of a deceased practitioner of some extreme sport that the person “died doing what he loved.”) That desire of Lance’s (dare I say, lust) eclipses everything and everyone else. “Oh, how caring,” sayeth the media, “that the great bicyclist is willing to forgo the really important things in life – like the Olympics – to stoop down and pet his children for three months. Awwwww!”
Even his “charity” work does not begin at home.
Perhaps you are wondering why I am expending my energy “tearing down” Lance Armstrong.
What concerns me is that we are willing to elevate people who succeed at the inconsequential and fail at the truly significant. It also concerns me that our willingness to measure success in such vapid terms has an impact on the society that allows for more and more divorce and divorce-scarred children.
There was a reason God said he hates divorce. Divorce destroys people and cultures.
Not too many years ago, a divorced man would never consider running for high office – even if the divorce were for a biblical cause. That day is long past.
It is a symptom of our decline that we now do not even consider such things when we decide whom we are going to admire. We may have all numbed ourselves to it, but God still hates divorce.
Achievement is fine, but I think there were more important things for Lance Armstrong to do than pedal a bicycle and peddle himself. He has more than enough to retire on, yet he can only find a few months to give to Luke, Isabelle, and Grace.
Paul deParrie is a pro-life author and long-time anti-abortion activist in the Portland, Oregon area. You can order Paul deParrie books from his web site The Portland Porcupine.
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