Portraits of Courage


In 2001 there occurred a horrible and tragic event, the mauling of a young boy by the name of Shawn Jones by two vicious dogs in Richmond, CA. As terrible as this attack was, as horrifying the experience and resultant disfiguring to the young boy, worse were the actions of the responsible adult to whom the dogs belonged. He ran. He hid, and he hid the two dogs. Eventually, he was brought to justice, but due to the nature of the laws on the books, he was guilty of only a misdemeanor offense. Sad.

I was captivated initially by the resolute and steadfast support of Shawn's family, neighbors, and friends. And Shawn himself possessed great courage in the face of the path before him. I never met Shawn, do not know him, other than through what I have read and heard in the media. There were many thoughts that ran through my mind as I followed his journey since that horrible day, thoughts that were pained for him, intense, yet not fully formed - there were things I wanted to say in response to what happened to him, but the words didn't come easily. My thoughts remained a jumble and unsaid - that is, until the words of Joan Ryan appeared in her column in the San Francisco Chronicle one day in late October of 2002. Here was a word-picture that gave form to what had been random and half-formed thoughts of what I wanted to say about this young boy, in words far more eloquent than any I could have penned, that gave the essence of what his journey means to the rest of us, and how his spirit and life have touched the lives of others around him. Having obtained permission to reproduce in its entirety her column of October 29, 2002, here are the words of Joan Ryan...