I’ve seen pictures of “Stone Cold” Steven Austin fans holding up those signs at professional wrestling events and found them a bit irritating if not offensive. They seem to me to be at least irreverent if not downright blasphemous. By what could pass for coincidence, I had the chance to hear a little bit of the gospel of Austin while flipping through the channels the other day.
Apparently, “Stone Cold” now hosts one of the fourteen thousand new reality shows, this one based on a group of professional wrestling hopefuls, all vying to be the last one kicked of the Island of My Great Wonderful Chance to Be Someone Else. Austin and two or three other people who, I assume, are also professional wrestlers, were reviewing the contestants’ efforts and standings.
As they discussed one female contestant, the female professional commented, “I can’t believe she was cheating; she’s a military veteran. Of all the contestants, she should have known that she was cheating and that she’d get caught.”
“Cool,” I thought, “so, she got caught cheating and now she, the other contestants and whatever segment of the world population watches this show will know that she got caught cheating and got kicked off the show.”
Obviously, I don’t know a cotton-picking thing about the real world of professional wrestling.
Immediately, the other three professional wrestlers jumped to the cheater’s defense, with all sorts of good reasons for what she had done. Their views were summed up by the prophet’s own words: “If you ain’t cheating, then you ain’t trying.”
It is no wonder that my colleagues feel overwhelmed by the avalanche of plagiarism, no wonder that our financial aid office workers shake their heads at the number of students who enroll, show up just long enough to cash their Pell Grant checks for a few thousand dollars and then disappear. I do not marvel that chemically-enhanced superstar athletes break records, marriages and bank accounts or that actors who have made multiple millions of dollars end up facing tax evasion charges. Congress is not the Great Sewer of American Corruption; it is a reflection of the nation.
What I do marvel at is that there are still so many good people who defy the culture and live by a standard higher than the low ebb of Nielsen Ratings. I marvel and I thank God for them.