Safe at Third, Out at Home

When I was very young, I assumed that I was destined to come into being even if my mother had married someone other than the person who became my father. I knew nothing about genetics. “It doesn’t work that way,” my biological parents said to me. They left it at that, being reluctant to get into the nitty-gritty of things.

It left me wondering, however, about the improbability of my existence. I was glad that my mom and dad met and married each other. But I was glad for much more than that. Once I learned something about genetics and heredity, this improbability zoomed into the realm of the unbelievable. Of my father’s millions of sperm, just the right one had to mingle with just the right one of my mother’s hundreds of thousands of eggs, in order for me to exist. The chances of me being me was infinitesimally close to zero. To make the situation even more mind-boggling, the same improbable exchange of gametes had to occur between all my paternal and maternal genealogical ancestors in order for me to exist and possess my unique set of genes. Perhaps God had a guiding hand in all this. What was apparent, however, was the fact that from a statistical point of view, I probably should not be here. My gratitude, therefore, should be commensurate with the unlikelihood of my unique existence.

Looking at things from a cosmic perspective, let us divide my genealogical history into three stages. The first includes the vast amount of time that transpired from my primal parents to the coming into being of my mom and dad. All the right gamete exchanges had to occur into order for my parents to come into being. The second is the fact that of all possible partners, my parents chose each other to marry. The third stage is the moment of conception when the one sperm of my father and the one egg of my mother that were needed to form me united with each other. I must value my existence, since, from the viewpoint of probability, it was so highly unlikely to occur.

Now, looking at things from a perspective that is much easier to imagine, let us relate these three stages to a baseball diamond. Getting to first base took eons. Getting to second base required just a few years. Getting to third base needed only a few days. Now that a person is safe on third, which corresponds to the mother carrying him in her womb, the long history of improbabilities have put him in a position in which home is within relatively easy reach. Here, poised at third, one is very close to the end of a journey that is as long as it is improbable. And yet the last lap, seemingly the shortest and least improbable, is routinely annulled by abortion. It is a crime of cosmic and historical proportions. It the closes the drama just before it can reach its triumphant climax.

The saguaro cactus is considered an adult when it has reached 125 years of age. Its average life expectancy is between 150 and 175 years. Given how long it takes to mature, it is highly valued. Saguaro cacti are protected by law. In the year 2007, Gregory McKee and Joseph Tillman were charged, under Arizona’s “Lacey Act,” with cactus poaching and sentenced to eight months in a federal prison. “This activity will not be taken lightly,” stated Dennis K. Burke, U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona, “Creative landscaping is no excuse to plunder natural treasures from our national parks.” Robert Love, the Chief Ranger at Saguaro National Par, made the comment that “Saguaros have become a valuable commodity and are increasingly targeted by thieves and poachers. Sentences like the ones imposed on Tillman and McKee send a strong message to those who plunder our Nation’s natural resources.”

The longevity of the saguaro cactus is the mere blinking of an eye in comparison to the eons of time required to produce a unique human being. Yet, it is a crime to dig up a cactus and a mere “choice” to exterminate an unborn child.

In 1945, William J. Cameron wrote an inspirational essay entitled, “Don’t Die on Third.” It was reprinted by the Ford Motor Company as an instructional guide conveying the message not to give up when one is close to the finish line, or “not to die on third”. The concluding paragraph reads as follows: “So, while there’s one thing yet to do, and there’s always one thing yet to do, or a fraction of time to do it in, Don’t die on third.  Study conditions, learn all you can, use all you learn, summon your strength and courage, defy luck – and, then bold player – just by doing this, you have already scored. Something great is strengthened within you.” The message was intended to transcend baseball.

How more appropriate is this advice when applied to the woman who is carrying a child—a child of the universe—and contemplating an abortion! Sports, at their very best, can be an inspiration to life. But sports should never be a replacement for it. We often take sports too seriously, and human life not seriously enough. Nonetheless, being safe at third, out at home, is the great tragedy of our time.

Dr. Donald DeMarco is a Senior Fellow of Human Life International. He is professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ontario, an adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College in Cromwell, CT, and a regular columnist for St. Austin Review. His latest works, How to Remain Sane in a World That is Going Mad and Poetry That Enters the Mind and Warms the Heart are available through Amazon.com. Articles by Don: