The big purge
I once left a company that I had founded and the next management group meticulously tried to purge me, as though I had never existed. Actually, they did so as it suited their needs. When it was useful to keep my name alive, they kept it. Well, as it happens, the Big Purge seems to be a common theme in business, government and philanthropy. There’s something twisted going on in ‘the next generation’s’ mind. Granted, the biggest and best example of them all might be justified: Lance Armstrong. I met Lance, a few years back, and did not walk away enamored with his attitude. I offered to get him involved in a major cancer project (my Cancer is… films) and he declined. I did, admittedly, get to interview his Livestrong CEO, Doug Ulman, but Lance would not have it; I think in those days he felt I was below his pay grade?
Fast forward to today and it’s amazing how much of a purge he has been submitted to. I just went to the Livestrong site and did a search for “Lance”. It returned ZERO results. Nada, not even a mention in their history. Lance, the founder and champion of the cause, that never was.
What is my point? My point is that as humans, we need to accept that both failure and error are human nature and that we can judge someone both for the good they have done and the bad. We can do so separately. We can thank General Petraeus for his service to the nation while chastising him for his meandering. Lance, we all know, was not alone at the doping counter. The entire Peloton of the Tour de France doped. Lance’s mistake was to both partake and then deny. As I write, he may be righting his wrong on Oprah Winfrey’s show this Thursday (taping Monday). We’ll see if he does. Will it change what I think of him? Probably not, his snub was a shame for both of us. But I still respect what he accomplished. He did win the Tour de France, albeit on drugs, but the next 100 riders, I would wager, were also doped up.
Should we purge our past? Should we stop teaching our children about the Holocaust and other atrocities because they are politically incorrect or inopportune? I say NO! I say we need to accept that all that lives, does so with a delicate balance of survival that opens the door to mistakes. I guess that is one aspect of the Judeo-Christian ethos that I like very much; we can forgive without forgetting.