Steroids of many varieties - by Jack Thiessen

Ever since Ben Johnson got caught for taking performance enhancing drugs and lying about it, even naive Canadians know that cheating among the most prestigious both in terms of money and fame is among us. This dilemma of scandal is so pervasive that the question emerges: should one start at the bottom and clean the mess up thoroughly and do what it takes in the parlance of the trade or simply call the Olympics et al off altogether.

While the outrage of having been duped by cheats and liars is understandable, I would suggest that there are analogous exhibitions of behavior equally reprehensible which not only go unpunished but are actually lauded and rewarded.

Consider: The Dust of the Fall of the Wall had not yet fully settled when the universities of former Communist states made honest and successful attempts to divest themselves of a loathsome record. I considered it a prestigious privilege to have been named professor to an ideological restructuring of the great university of Jena. I shall die with a conviction of well done in my soul.

Jena's sport facilities under Communism were one of the very best in the world; the records and medals speak for themselves. And yet, the human conscience is not always permanent in its depravity. It took only one to come forward and bring down institutionalized scandal and in one grand sweep the whole world famous structure came tumbling down similar to 9/11. The entire nimble team of master steroid cheats was exposed and transferred to the Audio-Visual Section of the university; I had daily dealings with them.

One of the most decorated and famous female athletes in Jena, M. F. was my student. It became quickly obvious that she had exchanged her cheating ways from athletic excellence to capitalizing on the vagaries of capitalism, namely the pursuit of luxury under democracy. Granted, she was a devastating beauty; this helps. I am sure President Bush and his cronies including more than a few of Mennonites residing on Prosperity Gospel Avenue would have been proud of this adroit model.

M. F. wore the finest clothes and had a well-rounded portemonnaie, meaning money to her was readily handy. She had obviously metamorphosed, literally overnight, from utilizing a perfect body to earn gold medals to becoming a highly paid prostitute; a professional cheat all the way.

A further analogy: when my mother took grievously ill in late autumn of 1960 the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Association) literally handed me a free ticket to visit my dying mother in Winnipeg. While here, I met with a great but unsung hero, Arnold Dyck, who desperately tried to convince me to return here and become the editor of a Mennonite paper. He would, he said, go all out to help me realize this aim, should I be interested.

I had been away for too long and did not quite understand how things had changed, if at all. And so I asked him, if there was a downside to working here in proximity to the anvil of decision making and breaking. After due reflection he replied, "Since you have been in Germany so long, I who know both the German and the local system must inform you in truth that, as opposed to Germany, here a fifteen year old born-again Schnoddanäs aka snot nose often has more influence, pull and power than does an old and wise, experienced, educated, cultured, lonely senior citizen who smokes." Born-again status obviously as a steroid.

In time, I came to understand Dyck's wise prognosis but nowhere more so than in the local boards that run and dictate and formulate content and policy, the whole gamut from Bible Colleges to Bote policies. I also came to understand after long and difficult experiences that these boards will sooner destroy institutions and people in the name of the Lord than change their ways. And thus they are the most dangerous because they are simply incapable of insight or change, no more so than does George Bush because they have the Lord on their side. And He and they are as constant and absolute as is abject stupidity, recalcitrance and Creationism aligned with the attendant Mother Lode of human depravities as outlined.

This to my knowledge is the only mind-set resistant to corrective or enhancing steroids unless such mind-set by and in itself constitutes the ultimate steroid.

© 2007 Jack Thiessen