I played basketball when I was younger, from about the first grade (when I was young enough to bug my parents until they gave in) to the fifth grade (when my interests changed). It can (and probably should) go without saying that my team and I weren’t the best players. Our rivals, a nearby Catholic school, beat us every year. It was never even close. I remember playing and practicing with the yearly goal of beating them, just once. During my last year playing, we finally achieved our goal. The game came down to one free throw.
When we finally beat them, I looked over at the other team. Their lead scorer was in tears, not because she’d lost, and not because it was a close game, but because her dad – their coach – was disappointed in her performance. A few years later, I approached her at a volleyball game and asked her if she remembered us. She said that that game, our first and only basketball victory against them, was important to her: not because of the loss, but because it changed her relationship with her dad.
Lauren Hill was born in October 1995. She attended Mount Saint Joseph University and played basketball. When she was 18, Lauren was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and given less than two years to live. In those two years, despite what was defined for her as a most definite and inevitable loss, Lauren continued to go to school and play basketball. What is unique about Lauren’s story, however, is what revealed itself in the first game of that season –
Maybe losing doesn’t need to be about one’s loss, so much as it can be about recognizing the inherent worth and dignity of every person.
Lauren Hill’s story is a perfect example of this first UU Principle. In her time of need, both she and her opposing team came together and demonstrated not only her inherent dignity and worth, but she also celebrated theirs.
We’re going to finish this together.