I’ve watched a couple of reputations vanish like snowflakes in hell in the past few weeks.  Lance Armstrong and Jimmy Savile, both blokes I didn’t like particularly, but whose achievements I did admire.  Both of them used their reputations (the untarnished versions) to do some pretty decent fundraising.  And both of them relied on their reputations to get away with unsavoury acts (to say the very least).  

We rely on reputation a lot.  We are, after all, human.  If I am introduced to someone new by someone I trust, I’m likely to trust the new friend.  Equally, if I am advised to treat them with caution, I am likely to act according.  I rely on what other people say in my initial assessments, as well as on my own instinct and judgment.  

But I do rely on people to tell me the truth.  If “old so-and-so is a great bloke” then that’s what I’ll go with, at least initially.  If “old-so-and-so is a great bloke but don’t let him get you in a dark corner” then I will heed that.  Reputations are made and broken by what people say about others.  What we see in the news at the moment is what happens when people don’t tell the truth about what they see.  And I am not talking about Savile’s victims here, I am talking about all the people who knew roughly what was going on.  And all the people around Armstrong, who knew what was happening.  

The truth may not always set everyone free.  But it does mean we all know what we are dealing with.  The cycling part of me is quite clear that I couldn’t complete the Tour de France even if I was pin cushion full of performance enhancing drugs.  I couldn’t raise the kind of money that this pair managed to wheedle out of the public for some very very worthy causes.  But no matter how much “good” they have done, the idols have feet of clay.  And sooner or later clay crumbles.  Bear it in mind the next time you introduce me to a friend of yours – tell me the truth.  


4 responses to “Idols….

  1. The Armstrong and Savile stories hadn't quite come together in my head, but you are right of course. And this is a timely warning for us to be careful about who we put on pedestals and why. Thank you.

  2. What I find so disturbing about all of the Saville business is that many people knew what he was like and what he was doing as far back at the 1970's, but held off speaking out for fear of what?

    Surely it puts into doubt the honesty and integrity not only those who worked with him, but all of the fellow travellers who were aware of rumours or even had seen things for themselves, but failed to act.

    The morality of it all, the lack of moral courage involved and the perception that it wasn't their job to shop him just scares me to death! Surely, every one of them now must be guilt ridden (if they have a conscience that is?) and will feel tarred by the same despicable acts that Mr Saville is said to have committed.

    And of course, the prevarication, the cover ups, the damage limitation continues from all directions. I understand that some of Saville's friends may be implicated – at the moment, that is only conjecture, but I suspect that some must be losing a bit of sleep at the moment in case the finger is pointed at them as well.

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