A child shall lead them
Now and then a child steps up with behavior that sets an example for adults and puts to shame the actions of many adults. Such was the case this week when seven-year-old Owen Shure of Los Angeles put to shame a passel of adults across the country.
Last Sunday in the National Football Conference championship game Kyle Williams of the San Francisco 49ers had a bad day, a really bad day. First, he muffed a punt that allowed the New York Giants to recover the ball and a few plays later score a touchdown. Then, in overtime with the game on the line, he fumbled while returning a punt. Again, the Giants recovered and this time scored a game-winning field goal.
Williams, normally a backup, was in the game only because the starting kick returner was injured. No doubt, he was hoping to do something positive, maybe a long kick return that would set up a championship victory. Instead, he went from hopeful hero to scorned sinner. In the minds of many fans, he was clearly the reason the 49ers lost the game.
For many rabid, unthinking, disappointed fans, vengeance is not the Lord’s, it’s theirs. Fueled by anger, disappointment and apparently hate, and enabled by social media, especially Twitter, fans sought vengeance with a torrent of unkind, profane and threatening words against Williams. Sadly, he even received death threats.
Among the disappointed fans was Owen Shure, who loves the 49ers. A writer at The Huffington Post reports that between sobs Owen cried, “But…why…did he…have to…fumble?” Trying to stop his son’s crying, Owen’s father asked, “If you feel this way, how sad do you think Kyle Williams is?”
Good question, one I doubt many adult fans asked themselves. But Owen thought about it and, instead of joining in the malicious venting being done by so many adult fans, he asked his dad if he could write a letter to Williams to make him feel better.
What? Show empathy and understanding when you can vent and castigate hiding behind a wall of anonymity? What’s with you, kid? Man up, show your spite.
Thankfully, Owen instead showed more maturity and understanding than the adult members of the Twitter lynch mob (as one writer called them) and wrote the following letter:
Dear Mr. Williams:
We just watched the Playoff game. I feel really bad for you but I wanted to tell you that you had a great season. you sould be very proud, so I wanted to say thank you.
I am your #1 FAN!
Los Angeles, CA
p.s. your awesome
The letter lacks something in spelling and punctuation, but he is only seven years old and, as a Yahoo sports writer noted, the Twitter lynch mob members have no such excuse.
It is human to be frustrated or angry when experiencing disappointment, but seven-year-old Owen has reminded us that we can and should move beyond that to understanding, empathy and respect.
PS—You’re awesome, too, Owen.
Hoorah for the dad who put the thought in the boy’s mind. What a great life lesson he gave his son…and now the rest of us!