Sunday, January 20, 2013

Lancing the Boil

This week, Lance Armstrong, cycling villain extraordinaire, took the first step towards healing the wounds caused by his extensive doping scandal.  Guided by one of the world’s most pre-eminent celebrity interviewers, Oprah Winfrey, Lance admitted to using nearly every imaginable type of banned performance enhancing substance.  He outlined    the steps he took to win, to “level the playing field,” as he put it.  The one thing that was missing?  A real apology.

A boil is typically a cyst or infected hair follicle gone bad.  The minor infection expands into a larger area of the body, increasing both in size and effect.  A severe boil can lead to more significant infection; even an average size one can cause severe fever and extreme weariness as the body fights.  The first step in treating the infection combines the repeated use of a heated compress with thorough washing.  Drawing the pus to the surface prepares it for the next step.

Lance needs to learn how to apologize.  He reminded me of the time I was caught drinking syrup from the bottle (that stuff tasted good!).  I apologized to my Mom, but I was more sorry to myself for getting caught than I was about drinking the syrup.  Lance’s delivery, his body language, even his word choices all contradicted the intended apologetic spirit of the interview.  Perhaps he felt sorry, but his demonstration of that feeling lacked merit, and to many, appeared equally as insulting.

When treating a boil, doctors will also prescribe antibiotics and topical creams to treat the infection.  Employing a multi-pronged attack helps to ensure a successful initial treatment.  Taking care to reach the infection from every angle prevents a relapse.

A true apology can be an art many of us find unfamiliar.  Our society raises up the strong, and to many, apologizing implies weakness.  This is backwards to me; admitting error takes incredible spiritual strength.  By cheating in the first place, Lance demonstrated his lack of internal strength.  Should anyone be surprised that his apology lacked strength as well?

Lancing a boil can be dangerous, and when used as the only means of treatment, often leads to re-infection or secondary infection.  When not approached in the proper way, the pus remains hard packed, continuing to clog the wound.  Not consulting a medical professional and taking the knife into our own hands often yields terrible results.  

Lance’s apology came across as a personal attempt to lance the boil of his years of lies, deceit, and outright despicable behavior.  The boil on Lance’s soul is filled from his mistreatment of friends and associates, his destructive attacks on people’s lives for attempting to expose the truth, and the incredible disservice he has done to his fans.  Because Lance did not treat his own infection before attempting to lance it, true healing is impossible.  Only after the right steps will Lance truly be able to move forward from this and heal along with everyone he has hurt.

- a good article on how to correctly apologize using Lance's apology as an instructive counterpoint

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