Right now, someone is doing something that someone shouldn’t be doing to someone else related to race, religion, gender, or any number of other characteristics. And normally, that’s what this blog post would cover, but no finger-wagging this week. I thought for a change I’d write about something positive as a reminder that there are also good people out there doing good things. Sounds good, right?
In Norton, MA, a high-school wrestling champ’s undefeated streak has just come to an end. Norton High School student Deven Schuko recently lost a match to Dighton-Rehoboth High School wrestler Andy Howland. After winning 27 matches in a row this year, Schuko ended his 28th pinned to the mat. But he wasn’t upset. On the contrary, he was elated to lose to Howland.
See, Howland has Down Syndrome, so when the two young grapplers locked up, Schuko let Howland win. Howland “threw in a good move,” said Schuko. “He was strong. He’s a tough kid.” Schuko also added that if he had to lose to someone, it should be Andy.
By throwing the match, Schuko was able to create a remarkable moment that Howland—and Schuko himself—will likely never forget. Tempting as it is to say that Schuko displayed that there are more important things in life than winning, Schuko explains it better: “It was a win-win in my book. He won, I won.”
If only the rest of us could view winning that way. If only we could all set aside our selfish desires to think about what true happiness not only looks like but how we could encourage it in others. If only we could realize that when someone wins, that doesn’t mean that someone else has to lose.
And if only we could all recognize that we are not, nor will we ever be, nor could we ever be, all equal to each other. Some of us are smarter, stronger, and prettier than others. When we talk about equality, what do we mean then? What we should mean is treating everyone with equal consideration of interests, as my favorite philosopher Peter Singer would say. That’s what Schuko did. After weighing his own interests against those of a student with a cognitive disability, he decided to treat Howland differently than he would most other competitors.
So forget about everything you’ve been told about treating everyone the same. We are not all the same. And sometimes it takes two high-school students to prove what happens when you stop pretending that differences don’t matter and celebrate them instead.