Thursday, September 12, 2013

Little things change everything: It's within your power



And a gesture changed the world.


A gesture that was merely a human reaction.


Here are some details.


The place was Fenway Park. It was a day game.


It happened in the middle of the infield.


Between innings, the shortstop walked over to the second baseman and put his hand on his shoulder.


The two men talked about  the way they should position the infield as they faced the fierce lineup of the hometown  Red Sox that afternoon.


The famously cruel Boston crowd took notice and went quiet.


The Bostonians seemed especially angry that day, but the simple act of a hand on a shoulder changed everything.


Time stood still.


A hand on a shoulder.


That act of friendship.






In case you were wondering what the big deal was, let me fill in a few more facts.


The shortstop was Pee Wee Reese of the Brooklyn Dodgers, a star born and bred in the deep woods of the south.


A hero from  the heart of Dixie.


And who was the second baseman he treated as a brother that day?


Jackie Robinson.


Beantown was not a friendly environ for the first black man to break the color barrier in major league baseball.


And much more so than today with the NFL and NBA grabbing some spotlight, baseball truly was America's game back then.


In fact, baseball was America.


But when the bleacher bums of Boston saw the All-star shortstop casually demonstrate his solidarity with this brave pioneer, they knew they had to surrender.


They had to wave the white flag, so to speak.


That gesture changed America and the world.


Soon, "separate but equal"  would also fall.


"Whites only" signs would  begin to disappear and Martin Luther King's capturing of the national spotlight in the fight against racism was just around the corner.


And America would walk fitfully toward fulfillment of its destiny as a land of racial justice.


We still haven't eliminated racial strife in our great land.


But we have made progress, no doubt.


And that remarkable act that played out between Reese and Robinson before a sold out crowd silenced not only those that were present.


It began to  silence voices of bigotry that had  long been making too much noise in our Christian nation.


Look folks, you probably can't change history the way Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson did that day in Boston.


But you can make a caring gesture now and then.


Slip a few bucks to a homeless man.


Tell a Marine that you appreciate his service.


Put your  hand on the shoulder of a handicapped child.


It's just a gesture.


But maybe there are angels out there in the bleachers, watching.


Maybe your gesture helps another to summon courage.


In our modern world where we protect our personal space, it's okay to touch people and to convey your moral support.


The impact can be meaningful.


Just ask Pee Wee Reese.


You're the shortstop.


Find the second baseman.




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