“I am human” – the words apologetically spoken by Olympic track star Sha’ Carri Richardson after testing positive for marijuana. To be fair, she was in Oregon, where marijuana is legal. It isn’t legal for Olympians, however.
I am a proponent of the legalization of marijuana. I don’t smoke it or ingest gummies or marijuana in any form. I don’t see much difference between marijuana and alcohol, nor has marijuana unequivocally been proven a gateway drug. In the case of Sha’ Carri, her sin was disregarding the Olympic rules.
What was the backstory? She is young and coping with the loss of her mother, not to mention the pressure of being an Olympic hopeful. The marijuana wasn’t going to positively impact her performance on the track by propelling her ahead of her competition, but it was what she chose to cope with the loss.
What happened with Sha’ Carri is no different than what we do with every other rising star whether in entertainment, sports, or politics. We build them up to tear them down. It, too, is an Olympic sport, of sorts. She is 21, for heaven’s sake. Would any of us act any differently? Perhaps our drug of choice, so to speak, wouldn’t be marijuana, but there are plenty of other vices people use to cope.
Do we consider the backstory for anyone we put in our sights to rip to shreds? Probably not. It is easier when we don’t know the backstory – just as it is easier to give opinions on what we would have done differently in any given situation. We do that when we hear about women or men caught in the storm of domestic violence. We do that with women who choose abortion. We do that when we find out another is gay. What we don’t do is understand the people behind the stories are human beings. Human beings are born into a world full of faults and flaws. Human beings make wrong and sometimes bad choices. Anyone who says otherwise is lying to themselves.
In truth, many of my reactions and choices come from a place of fear. The fear I am not good enough, fear of not having enough, fear of not knowing enough, fear of failure, fear my children will suffer when I think they are choosing roads I have traveled. That’s a lot of fear. Over the years, I have found ways to rise above and ways to heal, but I do not live on the mountaintop, nor have I healed. Rising above and healing are works in progress at best. The proverbial two steps forward and one step backward. I admire people who seem to have it together, to have risen above and conquered, but the reality is they still have clay feet. We all do. Every one of us.
We don’t get it right all of the time. Sometimes we hit the bull’s eye, and sometimes we don’t. We can learn and change and do better next time, but we may be taking a trip around that mountain more than a few times before we get it right. Sha’ Carri is human, made a mistake, and needn’t be nailed to a cross for her mistake. Should she be given a pass? Doesn’t everyone deserve at least one pass? Unfortunately, she wasn’t given a pass and won’t go on to compete in the Olympics. Sha’ Carri is human, I am human, and so are you. Perhaps we need to be more understanding, more forgiving because, in the end, we are all human…..