I heard a psychiatrist discussing the shameful Lance Armstrong smashup on TV, suggesting Armstrong suffers from low esteem, no doubt a result of something occurring in his youth, causing him to cheat and lie about his performance enhancing drug use.
That’s just bunk. He wanted to win at all costs, and cheating was fine with him — as long as he didn’t get caught. Unfortunately this is a prevalent attitude in professional sports and it’s really the pits.
It’s also indicative of the attitude of some of those known as “Generation X,” aka Gen X, those born-after-the-post-WWII “baby boomers,” from approximately 1961-1981. Armstrong was born smack in the middle, in 1971.
I have some real problems with the Gen X philosophy, which often seems to translate as “I want what I want and I will do what it takes to get what I want.” That might mean they would buy their way to success (preferably with someone else’s money of course) — or cheat — whatever. Armstrong’s ex-wife, Kristen, even suggested that EPO blood doping was just a necessary evil, really no biggie. The end justifies any means and people are but insignificant pawns in the game. Intimidation and/or total lack of emotion or compassion is part and parcel of the scenario.
One theory (Strauss-Howe) describes the Gen X’ers as “ a streetwise generation who does indeed bring a bag of savvy tricks that their elders lack …”
But, for every callous and calculating Armstrong and entourage, there are true heroes that follow a different path; a time-honored path of honor, friendship and commitment.
If your yellow Live Strong wrist bracelet feels a little too heavy these days, I’d like to suggest you visit the Team Jesse Foundation for some untarnished inspiration. The mission at Team Jesse is to provide education and support to families of fallen soldiers in honor of Staff Sgt. Jesse Williams, a young war hero from Santa Rosa who was killed in Iraq in 2007. I am sure founder Kevin Mincio would be happy to send you a red, white and blue Team Jesse bracelet that you can wear with pride, as my family does.
Mincio is a Gen X’er of another sort. While Armstrong was doping and winning, Mincio left his lucrative financial job at Goldman Sachs in New York City, after watching one too many bodies jump or burn on 9/11/2001. Older than most of the rest, he enlisted, and went off to seek revenge. Nothing artificial pumped those boys up in basic training, where he met Jesse Williams, but each other. These were teammates of a sort Armstrong could never know nor understand. They were the real deal as generations of soldiers were before them.
While Armstrong was doping to ease the pain, and winning, Kevin Mincio took off on a 4,400 mile bike ride from Jesse’s grave to Ground Zero, to arrive on 9/11/2010 and honor his fallen friend. This ride is the subject of a gripping documentary film (see attached) making its way through the film festival circuit. Mincio and his riding partner had nothing but sheer will to ease their pain, no drugs, no fancy entourage, no lies nor excuses, just 93 days of riding their bikes across the country in heat and hurricanes.
They won more honor in their finish than Lance Armstrong ever did.
I submit that Kevin Mincio is a hundred times the man Lance Armstrong thinks he is or thought he was in his consummate Gen X attitude. That Jesse Williams knew then and knows now, more about a purposeful life than Lance Armstrong ever will. That the child of Jesse Williams will know the honor of his father and his father’s friend, while Armstrong’s five children will bear a heavy burden with his name. And that every generation can learn from the heroes among them.