Steve McNair is dead, evidently courtesy of a murderous mistress.
Steve “Air” McNair was a very good (not great) quarterback who played football in the NFL for 13 years. As a good professional football payer with a very long career, McNair made a lot of money. So much money did McNair make, in fact, that he was able to create a parallel life for himself. So while all the world thought that McNair was a model citizen, a community hero, a good husband and devoted father, the Nashville police are now revealing that (with a friend) he had leased a townhouse where he arranged rendezvous with a female “companion.”
Shooting the breeze with a friend yesterday, I made the offhand remark that “I wouldn’t set up a double-life like that for myself, even if I could.” “Yeah,” said my friend, “You’ve got to be able to live with yourself.”
This exchange has been on my mind ever since. I’ve been contemplating how it is that smart and successful people like McNair can fool themselves into thinking that they can successfully live a double-life like the one he had allegedly set up. On a more philosophical level, I’ve been pondering what principles, had they been present in McNair’s heart and soul, would have precluded his finding himself in the tragic position in which he ended. I’ve boiled my thoughts down to a few core principles, and I hope that I can communicate them to the reader without sounding too sanctimonious.
- Don’t mistake a lifestyle for a life. We live in a superficial society, in an age when many of the most desirable commodities and sought-after experiences are available in “virtual” form. We believe that image is more important than substance, and we pursue hedonistic pleasure with dogged determination. It’s no wonder that many people have fooled themselves into believing they can be a total wreck on the inside and yet be happy, as long as they can maintain a particular lifestyle.
- Don’t be a slave to the flesh. A Biblical principle that has been left by the wayside by most of the world, this item goes hand-in-hand with the first one. When we pursue animalistic pleasure we become irredeemably like animals. At the other extreme, total and encompassing self-denial serves no constructive purpose. Self-control and moderation are the watchwords here.
- Be what you appear to be. McNair has left behind a grieving widow, four fatherless sons, and tens of thousands of fans who had honestly believed that he was really the heroic figure he appeared to be. His agent, who had helped him to create the ‘good guy’ image, claims to be as stunned as anyone that McNair had leased a second home and had a kept woman on the side. McNair must have taken great care to conceal this deception from the public, but it’s no secret now.
- Do the right thing for the right reason. This is the one which, as the father of three little boys, I think about every single day. As a father, I’m all too aware of the aspect of human nature that is concerned with getting away with things. When correcting my sons I frequently ask them this question: “Do you know why you shouldn’t [insert transgression here]?” Almost as often as I ask the question, I receive the answer, “Because I’ll get in trouble.” That’s also the first response to formulate in the minds of most adults, but it isn’t the right answer. The right answer is, “Because it’s wrong.” Yes, there are such things as right and wrong; we should do the right thing because it’s right, and we should refrain from doing what we know is wrong just because it ain’t right. Why is this moral precept so important to me? Because I believe (and history shows) that the absence of this kind of morality results in people doing what’s right only when they have to, and doing things that are wrong whenever they think they can get away with it. And that is as sure a recipe for heartbreak as you will ever find.