Posts Tagged 'righteous indignation'

Conservation of Energy


In physics, the law of energy conservation states that the total energy of an isolated system remains constant. It can’t be created or destroyed; rather, it transforms from one form to another. Our understanding of the universe relies on this principle.

It often (not always) applies to people and relationships, too.

If you escalate (cut off in traffic, angry at the gate agent, frustrated at your boss), you’ve just added (negative) energy to a conversation.

If you escalate (enthusiasm, a hug, encouraging words), you’ve just added (positive) energy to a conversation.

Once the energy is added, it has to go somewhere. Often, the person you’re engaging with throws it right back, or even increases it. The problem with taking offense is that it’s really hard to figure out what to do with it after you’re done using it. Better to just leave it on the table and walk away. Umbrage untaken quietly disappears. A talented, mature person might take your negative energy and de-escalate it, or even swallow it and permit the conversation to calm down or end. But don’t count on it.

You can ‘win’ a conversation by overwhelming your opponent with energy they can’t handle. But of course, they’re not your opponent and you don’t really win. Being aware of the energy you add or take from interactions is a sophisticated technique that radically changes the outcomes of the conversations that fill your day. Add the good stuff, absorb the bad stuff and focus on the outcomes, not the bravado. Winning isn’t the point.


The fall of Lance Armstrong is complete. He has now been stripped of his seven Tour de France wins, has left the Live Strong organization he founded, and is now for all intents and purposes “retired,” and spending time with his family. Not a bad deal, actually. Of course they are going to come after him for the money he won, but that’s only a small fraction of the money he made.

Sadly, he is being singled out and made an example when in fact 20 of the 21 riders who placed in the top three during the years he won the race have all been connected to doping. The handling of it has been quite ugly and embarrassing on the part of cycling’s governing body, and the sport may never fully recover, at least in the U.S.

While he still maintains his innocence the questions can now shift away from if, to why. Why did he do it? That fact is, it was just a part of the sport. People close to it are convinced nearly all riders were cheating in some way. And even though some may not have been it’s likely most of the riders believed they were. It was simply deemed necessary to stay competitive. It’s important to understand here that these sports aren’t just sports anymore. It’s a business. Short of breaking the law we seem to act as if it’s okay for businesses to do whatever is necessary to get ahead. Aside from risks to one’s own health it wasn’t generally believed that any harm was being done. Add to this that for the most part the best drugs were very difficult to detect at the time and you have the perfect storm. It was easy, and necessary, and not considered particularly dangerous.

Lance’s fans are probably too quick to pass it off, but the righteous indignation with which the judgement came down belied a complete disconnect with how corrupt the sport has been for a long time. Did they need to clean it up? Certainly. But the witch-hunt after the fact is not productive.

All are on the same footing if they all are doing it, eh? Is that really still cheating?  You could opine that cheating is cheating and the moral man wouldn’t have done it. Perhaps. There are people who fit that bill. You’ve never heard of them and for the most part never will, because to survive in the sport required the type of performance only attainable with drugs. An article by one gets into some interesting detail about the sport, including some in-depth background about why the cheating occurs and what to do about it.

Is underage drinking okay with parental supervision? Legally it varies by state.

Maybe it is still cheating, if taken literally, but is it acceptable under these kinds of circumstances? What about speeding? Do you obey those laws? What about your taxes? Is everything 100% copasetic on them? Do you pay use tax when you order something from out of state (and aren’t charged state sales tax)? Most of us are willing to do a little cheating when we need something, especially if we perceive the potential for harm as minimal (i.e. everyone is doing it).

Just don’t get caught. That changes everything. I’ve paid many a speeding ticket over the years, yet I don’t think many would think me a bad person for speeding. But let someone get hurt and see what people think.


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