Perhaps you have seen the video of the two little league players, twelve year old boys from opposing teams, hugging on the pitcher’s mound at a championship game. As the story goes, it happened during the first inning of that game. The pitcher lost control of a pitch that hit the batter in the head, knocking the batter to the ground. For a while, it was hard to tell how seriously the batter had been injured. Fortunately, as it turned out, the batter was okay, able to take first base because he had been hit by a pitch, saved from more serious injury by the helmet that he had been wearing. And that’s when it happened. The pitcher was still so upset over what he had done. He had not meant to hit the batter. It was an accident, and yet, it was an accident that he had caused, and it was obvious that he felt terribly about what he had done. He could not stop crying. And so the batter, now on first base, walked to the pitcher’s mound, and he hugged the other boy, reassuring him that he was alright.
And the video struck such a chord in me. There was such decency on display from the crowd gathered that fell silent, from the two teams focused on the welfare of the injured player, from the pitcher so upset that he had hurt somebody even if accidentally, from the batter who was gracious enough to forgive an accident. He hugged the one who hurt him, another twelve year old boy, from the opposing team, in front of a crowd of people, who finally, together, cheered. “The greatest thing that has ever happened in a little league game,” the announcer said.
And I wondered what it would be like if some adults in our society could begin to show at least as much decency as those twelve year old boys in that championship little league game. For I am concerned by a certain meanness and vulgarity that I see in the way that people treat each other that is astonishingly admired in our society as an example of what it means to be tough rather than seen as behavior that is shameful and weak. And I wonder what it would be like if adults would stop hurting others, not accidentally, but deliberately, and then apparently enjoying the hurt that they have caused. What would it be like adults if stopped only cheering for their side but instead fell silent, concerned for those who are hurting? What would it be like if adults could actually show some grace to each other despite their opposition to each other, maybe especially when the stakes are high? What would it be like if we all learned a lesson from some twelve year old boys playing baseball about what human decency looks like and the incredible power and strength of a hug?
–Pastor Don Steele