Recently I watched the confronting documentary on Adam Goodes. To hear what the constant booing did to him psychologically and emotionally made for uncomfortable listening. I can remember when it was occurring, and that it was so bad he took some time away from the game. The reason for his short absence from playing was well publicised, yet on his return to the game the booing sadly continued despite his fragile emotional state. I am not sure what those booing wanted to achieve. Was it to see him destroyed? And why didn’t the overwhelming number of decent people in the crowd refuse to join in? The power and influence of the mob is indeed great.
I am not sure how long cricketer Steve Smith will continue to be booed. Even when he returned to the crease after being felled by a bouncer travelling at 150kms and which could have changed his life forever, some still choose to boo him. I fear this indicates that there will always be some who will boo him. It would be interesting to ask each of those booing Smith, ‘Have you ever done something you are not proud of? And if you have, how would you like to be reminded of it by thousands of people every time you went to work?’
The booing of Adam Goodes reminds us that bad things happen when good people don’t make a stand to oppose it. The booing of Steve Smith reminds us that some people are very keen to judge the sins of others and thus withhold grace, whilst being dismissive of their own short comings.
Jesus, who himself was turned on by the mob who yelled, ‘Crucify! Crucify!’, calls us all to let our lights of goodness shine in the midst of darkness and offer forgiveness to those who have done the wrong thing. It takes a great deal of courage to stand against the prevailing mob and it also requires courage to offer forgiveness. But courage is to be esteemed far more than simply following the crowd who love to remind someone they have previously failed a test of character.
I wonder what would happen if after welcoming everyone to the 2019 AFL Grand Final, Craig Willis said, ‘And let’s all behave like Jesus would this afternoon.’ A lot less booing, more general applause, more sympathy for injured players, maybe even players offering congratulations to their opponents, and at the end of the game, the crowd and players would join in giving three cheers to the umpire!
Just a thought! I would be happy simply with less booing.
God’s grace to you.
Senior School Chaplain