At a fund-raising dinner for a school that serves learning-disabled children, 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 question: When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does is done with perfection. 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? The audience was stilled by the query. The father continued. I believe that when a child like Shay physically and mentally handicapped comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child.
He told the following story:
Shay struggled over to the teams bench and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt. His father watched with a small tear in his eye and warmth in his heart. The boys saw the fathers joy at his son being accepted. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shays team scored a few runs but was still behind by three. In 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 his father waved to him from the stands. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shays 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.
At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance
to win the game?
The game would now be over. The 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 basemans head, out of reach of all team mates. Everyone 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 startled. 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. By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball...the smallest guy on their team who 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 pitchers intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-basemans 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
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 world.
Shay didnt make it to another summer. He died that winter, having
never forgotten being the hero and making his father so happy, and coming
home and seeing his mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the
We 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: Do 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 process?
A wise man once said every society is judged by how it treats its least fortunate amongst them.