The taunt from my childhood, “liar, liar, pants on fire,” came to mind as I watched Lance Armstrong and Manti Te’o confess publicly that they were liars. I felt sorry for Te’o as he had to explain the embarrassing fact that he had fallen in love with a woman who didn’t exist. On the other hand, I was disgusted with Armstrong.
Like most sports fans, I had admired the way Lance Armstrong had battled back from cancer to be the most successful bicycle racer of all time. Now we will never know how good he really was. The question of whether or not he could have won those races without using the banned substances will never be answered.
Listening to Armstrong admit he was a cheater and liar was painful. I realized he was a bully. He had to win at all costs, and was willing to destroy anyone who challenged him.
There are always lessons to be learned when a public figure stands up and humiliates himself. In the case of both of these outstanding athletes, the lesson is that lying is never a good thing. You might get away with it for a while, but at some point the truth almost always comes out. Sometimes it might be after the person has died, but the truth does prevail.
It is hard to think of an instance where a liar has been able to rebuild their honor. Their character is forever marked by the act of standing up and telling something that is not true in a way that is believable. Can you ever trust anything they say in the future? Can we trust them even when they confess?
I hope there are parents in this country who are using these lying scandals as teachable moments for their children. Being trustworthy is crucial to an honorable character.
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