Monday, July 09, 2007

Love is Contagious

Aiden McGuire is a Yankee fan, and an amazing friend.

Aiden and Michael Sayre are childhood buddies. They’ve grown up together, and now in their mid-twenties, they do what people in their mid-twenties do, hanging around together, drinking beer, and rooting for the Yankees.

But it’s getting harder for Michael to follow the Yankees. Michael suffers from congenital glaucoma, a condition that at 25 has left him blind in one eye, and rapidly losing vision in the other. Until recently, Michael had never seen a live Yankee game, and with his vision rapidly disappearing, it seemed probable that he’d never have a chance to see one either.

And then in March, Aiden wrote a letter to the Yankees:

“I’d like to tell you about my best friend, Michael Sayre……Michael is a 25-year-old diehard Yankees fan. He was born with glaucoma. Recently, he lost all vision in his right eye. Right now he’s hanging on to what vision he has left in his left eye, and his doctors don’t know how long it will remain healthy….”

The Yankees gave Aiden and Michael two tickets behind home plate. Before the game they were taken on the field for batting practice, and met with future hall of famers Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Roger Clemens. Truly, a Yankee fan’s dream; or perhaps Michael described it best: “I was going crazy. My head was going to explode.”

Aiden and Michael’s friendship just grabs your heart and inspires you. Pirke Avot tells us an enduring friendship is based on “love independent of ulterior motives”, and Michael and Aiden share that type of friendship. It’s impossible not to be moved by Aiden’s sincere selflessness.

And that’s precisely my point:

Love is contagious.

One sincere act of selflessness can inspires a dozen others. Aiden’s letter to the Yankees inspires the Yankees, and then, (as recounted in the Syracuse Post Standard), the Yankee's involvement inspires a whole host of other organizations:

…the Yankees responded with a couple of box seats and field passes and a tour of both Monument Park and the press box. Then, American Limousine chipped in with transportation, JetBlue offered airfare, the Peninsula New York hotel delivered lodging, Majestic Athletic pitched in a jersey, Hillerich & Bradsby shipped personalized bats.

One letter starts a kindness chain reaction. Sincerity inspires others to share in the gift of friendship.

In fact, Aiden told the New York Times he was shocked by the kindness he got:

“The fact that all of these people have come together to help a person they don’t even know has left me speechless”…

But it’s not that strange: love has always been contagious. In the Book of Ruth, one woman’s kindness changes the course of history. Ruth, a foreigner and a widow, treats her mother in law Naomi with love and loyalty. Her kindness inspires Naomi's relative, Boaz, to be kind to Ruth and Naomi. Ruth and Boaz marry, and the people of Bethlehem, inspired by their kindness, celebrate with them and bless them on their wedding day. Ruth’s baby, Oved, begets Jesse, who begets David, the future King of Israel. Kindness and love literally give birth to future redemption.

Yes, kindness begets kindness which in turn, begets even more kindness. Human hearts are open, ready to catch the “love bug”.

That’s why when good people like Aiden or Ruth or Boaz or Michael tell their story, they'll all tell you the same thing:

love is contagious.


Chana said...

What a beautiful post!

And what an amazing story about two friends.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to thank you for your thoughtful comments on our trip to NYC.

It's a very interesting take on how everything transpired, and you're absolutely right, the love, compassion, generosity and kindness from complete strangers was incredible.

Thanks again, I plan on passing this along to Mike.

Aiden McGuire