Two Choices.

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Two Choices.

look for a punch line, there isn’t one. My question is: Would you
have made the same choice?

At a fund raising dinner for a
school that serves children with learning disabilities, the father of
one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten
by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated
staff, he offered a quotation:

‘When not interfered with
by outside influences, everything nature does, is done with

Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other
children do. He cannot understand things as other children do. Where
is the natural order of things in my son?’


father continued. ‘I believe that when a child like Shay, who was
mentally and physically disabled comes into the world, an opportunity
to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way
other people treat that child.’


and I had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing
baseball. Shay asked, ‘Do you think they’ll let me play?’ I knew that
most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but
as a father, I also understood that if my son were allowed to play,
it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some
confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps.

approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting
much) if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance and
said, ‘We’re losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning.
I guess he can be on our team and we’ll try to put him in to bat in
the ninth inning.’

Shay struggled over to the team’s bench
and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt. I watched with a small
tear in my eye and warmth in my heart. The boys saw my joy at my son
being accepted.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay’s
team scored a few runs but was still behind by three.

the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the
right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously
ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear
to ear as I waved to him from the stands.

In the bottom of
the ninth inning, Shay’s team scored again. Now, with two outs and
the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was
scheduled to be next at bat.

this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win
the game? Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a
hit was all but impossible because Shay didn’t even know how to hold
the bat properly, much less connect with the ball.

as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the
other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay’s life,
moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least
make contact.

The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily
and missed. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the
ball softly towards Shay. As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the
ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher. The game
would now be over.

pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the
ball to the first baseman. Shay would have been out and that would
have been the end of the game.

Instead, the pitcher threw
the ball right over the first baseman’s head, out of reach of all
team mates.

from the stands and both teams started yelling, ‘Shay, run to first!
Run to first!’ Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he
made it to first base. He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and

Everyone yelled, ‘Run to second, run to second!’
Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and
struggling to make it to the base.

the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the
ball. The smallest guy on their team now had his first chance to be
the hero for his team. He could have thrown the ball to the
second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher’s
intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over
the third-baseman’s head.

Shay ran toward third base
deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward
home. All were screaming, ‘Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way Shay’ Shay
reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by
turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, ‘Run to
third! Shay, run to third!’

As Shay rounded third, the
boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on their feet
screaming, ‘Shay, run home! Run home!’ Shay ran to home, stepped on
the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won
the game for his team

‘That day’, said the father softly
with tears now rolling down his face, ‘the boys from both teams
helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this

Shay didn’t make it to another summer. He died
that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making me so
happy, and coming home and seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her
little hero of the day!

all have thousands of opportunities every single day to help realize
the ‘natural order of things.’ So many seemingly trivial
interactions between two people present us with a choice:

we pass along a little spark of love and humanity or do we pass up
those opportunities and leave the world a little bit colder in the

A wise man once said every society is judged by
how it treats it’s least fortunate among them.

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