In fairness Te'o and Notre Dame have stated that he was the victim of an elaborate hoax. So where is the truth in this?
If he was in on the hoax...then what does that say about him? What does that say about the price and/or the pursuit of fame? Was achieving more publicity the motivation behind lying to the world? Why would he risk his reputation on a fake story?
The arrows are understandably flying in Te'o's direction right now as people begin to doubt the story they had believed about him. The story of his girlfriend dying of leukemia and his response to it was a central part of the narrative that was told about Te'o. It was a huge reason why people, many of whom weren't even Notre Dame fans, started to cheer for him this year.
Yet before you and I aim one more arrow at him perhaps we'd be wise to see the ways that we might be creating hoaxes, both big and small, in our lives.
- Are you living in more home than you really need to impress people?
- Are you driving a car that you really can't afford because it looks good?
- Are you living a lifestyle that you can't sustain to keep up with the neighborhood?
- Are you pretending that nothing is wrong on Sunday at church, but falling apart the rest of the week?
- Are you afraid to stand up for what you believe in because of the fear that other people will reject you?
- Are you pretending to be someone you know you're really not?
I'll be the first to admit, I've been guilty of perpetuating hoaxes in my life. And, please don't take this the wrong way, but I think we all have. It's part of the human condition and no one is immune from it. (Thanks Adam and Eve.)
Yet, at the heart of every hoax is the idea that the real story isn't good enough. That the real YOU, the beautiful, the ugly, the light, the dark, the hurts and the joys are not enough. That people won't like you if they know the truth. That people won't understand if they see beneath the surface. That people will abandon you if you have the wrong car, or house, or clothes, or friends.
And perhaps that is the biggest hoax of all...this mistaken idea that YOU alone are not enough.