This I Believe

Ron - Los Altos, California
Entered on December 2, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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Save an Enemy, Gain a Friend

The common saying “Love your neighbor as yourself” speaks of high truth. At times, it may be almost impossible to follow, but it is somewhere deep inside us. I believe love is an innate quality in all humans.

I had been selected as one of seven players to represent Northern California in a nation-wide tennis tournament held in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois. As I scanned the list of my teammates, one name stood out; Mark. If I had to pick one person that disgusted me in the tennis world, it would be him. We played against each other on previous occasions; each time it was a heated battle of gamesmanship, and accusations of bad line calls. Because in junior tennis there are no referees on the court, he had slyly cheated me every time we played and tried to convince me that he had to right to cheat with outrageous excuses like, “Well, since you’re the better player, I’m going to have to take that point.” To put it simply; I hated him and he hated me. Nonetheless, I would be stuck with him for a week, on the same team, and as long as he won his matches and stayed away from me, I would have considered it a good week.

In the humid weather, muscle cramps were not uncommon. As we completed our first match, Mark and another teammate, Aaron, nearly had full body cramps. On the way back to our hotel, we stopped to grab lunch. Just as Aaron stepped out of the van, he experienced a full body cramp and our coach drove him to the hospital.

Mark, another teammate, Andrew, and I had finished eating early and decided to walk back to our hotel. Mark began to complain of chest pain but David and I were skeptical because we knew Mark usually overreacted to minor situations. Mark continued to complain and as we entered the room he collapsed, his body lifeless. At this point, my hostile attitude towards him was pushed aside. I called 9-1-1 and David went down stairs to let the paramedics in. Mark’s moans of chest pain were countered with “Don’t die on me Mark; you’re going to make it.” As I held his hand in support, I thought to myself, this was once a person who I wanted nothing to do with, what happened? A tear almost rolled off my face as I questioned; were these his last minutes? What would I tell his parents?

Mark has previous heart problems in the family and the muscle cramps had triggered irregular heartbeats. He was taken to the hospital and recovered.

Being through one of these experiences with Mark has allowed me to get to know his real character off the court. Visiting Mark at the hospital, I remember putting my hand on his shoulder and he responded, “You’re an alright guy, man.”

I have learned I shouldn’t judge people solely on the past and since this incident, I have lived with more love for others. I believe love will overcome hate and the innate love always emerges.