Read an Excerpt
Errors like straws on the surface flow;
He who would search for pearls must dive below.
—John Dryden, All for Love
What do we really know about the world around us? Many of us believe we have a firm grasp on reality and what constitutes fact. But who is to say what is right or what is true? We may receive information about various topics and events, but information is only as good as its source. Another problem is that we base our determinations on our own biases and pre-conceived notions. It is difficult to separate what we believe or, more pointedly, what we want to believe, from objective truth.
For a long time people believed the world was flat. Why wouldn’t you? It sure looks flat, doesn’t it? Many people claim the Great Wall of China is the only man-made object that can be seen from outer space. But here, once again, myth fails to pass the test of truth. But our distorted and incorrect views are not limited to the realm of urban legend.
Many people read the Bible and think they know the story of Noah’s Ark. They will say that the Bible tells us that Noah took the animals two-by-two onto the ark. But the Bible clearly says that Noah took two each (one pair) of the “unclean” and seven pairs (14 total) of the “clean” animals. How could one of the most popular stories in history be so often distorted? The simple answer is that we are conditioned to believe things we hear from what we consider to be reliable sources. How long did you believe in Santa Claus? The real challenge is finding a credible source of knowledge, especially in this era of instant, if not always completely accurate, information. Even the most powerful people in the world must deal with the possibility that the information they receive is incomplete or even false.
Our current problems with intelligence agencies have highlighted these issues. Recent news coverage has also shown how one-sided the presentation of information can be. Many news outlets have clearly decided that showing one side of issues is sufficient in presenting today’s events. But we must understand that news outlets can be as fallible and biased as the individuals who run them. We see the world they choose to present to us through their filters. This is why it is so important for us to seek an understanding of topics by intelligently examining all sides of an issue. We need to remain open-minded and diligent in our efforts if we are to achieve better understanding. We still may be incorrect, but we will be closer to an objective truth.
Seeking primary sources is an important first step in this process. If you want to understand war, you shouldn’t go to academics who study it or to news outlets that cover it. Rather, you should try to get information from the soldiers who live and fight it. This is where my book comes in. I would like to make it clear that while I make the comparison of being a football player to a soldier for convenience, by no means do I consider the two to be equal. I know what it’s like to face imminent danger and pain on a football field, but I cannot fathom the horror and anxiety soldiers must feel as they face death on a daily basis. We must never forget that soldiers like the late Pat Tillman (killed in Afghanistan) and Jerry Zovko (a friend of mine from high school who was brutally killed and then dragged through the streets of Fallujah in Iraq) are our real heroes and deserve the utmost respect from our society. Without them, we wouldn’t have the freedom we take for granted.
Understanding people can be extremely difficult. It takes years to get to know people in our personal lives and yet some try to accomplish this feat with celebrities from interview segments and sound bites. So I’ve tried to be thorough. I wrote this book by myself because I feel that you can’t really touch raw emotions by dictating a story for someone else to write. It was a struggle to accomplish, but I felt it was necessary to convey my message accurately.
This book has two main sections. The first, “The Main Sequence,” is autobiographical and focuses on the transition one goes through to become a star. The Main Sequence is an astronomical term that refers to part of the life cycle of a star like our sun. Our society places a heavy emphasis on athleticism. It treats athletes differently in good and bad ways. I try to show how difficult the stresses of this life can be and how it can affect one emotionally.
The second section, “Seraphim,” discusses what I characterize as the “fall from grace” of modern athletes, celebrities, and other public figures. Our society’s fascination with the people they watch and read about has turned into obsession. The public tries to find out everything about its idols. This has been made easier by the Internet and constant news coverage of celebrities. People become disenchanted when they find out that their heroes are nothing more than ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. I also offer other reasons I feel people often turn so dramatically against the heroes they used to blindly admire.
I hope this book helps explain some things to you. I hope this book entertains you. Most of all, I hope this book teaches you to see things from different perspectives—to not just focus on surface issues, to see the rest of the iceberg.