Why I dedicated my 50k race to Mr. Tai Lam: Part I

I try not to pay attention to the world news too much except the economic, financial news (because I need to for my job) When I do happen to read the paper, I read the sports section and sometimes the comics and do the crossword. I never watch news on TV and I don’t listen to news radio stations. I get a sense of what is happening via my Twitter feed. That’s one of the best things about Twitter…YOU customize it. You decide what you want to see. Awesome.

Anyway, last Wednesday, I actually read some of the regular news in the SF Chronicle. The first story that caught my eye was a heartwarming story of a family in need of assistance that got it thru the papers’ “season of giving” program. Of course, I like reading these kind of stories.

The next story I read stopped me dead in my tracks and really hit me in my core. A homeless, crippled man who was trying to sleep in the downtown financial district in San Francisco, was beaten to death. I read on and then found a subsequent follow up story online. Age 67, about 100 pounds in weight. Asian. Crippled. Homeless. Sleeping in a little cove he found and not bothering a soul. Apparently, 3 males, wandered by, saw him, and kicked him to death. Repeated kicking and kicking. There is video footage. They would stop when a car drove by. Then, kick again.

The police have said it was one of the worst attacks they have ever seen.
This happened in San Francisco’s financial district. A place where there is a staggering amount of wealth, in a city that has a ridiculous amount of wealth.

What did this man, the victim, Tai Lam, do? Nothing. Well…wait, he was HOMELESS! He was part of a homeless community that the greater community, for the most part, would like to forget….and they do, except when someone perhaps asks for money. Then they cringe and walk away. Or stare blankly ahead. I am not immune. I have ignored “them” too….sometimes it can feel like a scam or maybe we just gave $20 bucks to someone last week….I get it.

But, there is a bigger issue here and part of what stirred me up. In the wake of people protesting in many cities across the nation on police brutality & use of excessive force, who is rallying for this little old man? Who is coming to his aid to DEMAND the criminals be brought to justice? Who is speaking and rallying on his behalf? Who would rise to give significance to this horrific death and his now absence?

No one. There are no rallies in SF for Tai Lam. Because he, like so many of the downtrodden are truly forgotten by us! Our community. ALL OF US. It’s disturbing that people are overbidding on real estate property by hundreds of thousands of dollars, in cash, and we have people like Mr. Lam, living on the street and subject to this kind of aberration. It’s disturbing that a city with an enormous amount of resources somehow can’t or won’t give more to those who are most in need. And yet, money is just part of the issue. It’s the attitude that many take toward the needy, the homeless, those who are without….the simple lack of caring. Maybe if we cared more about these folks, if we demanded more action from our governments, if WE took more individual action. Giving money is wonderful & needed, but more involvement is necessary.

Every single homeless person has a story. Most of them probably have some kind of mental illness or drug problem. Mr. Lam was in neither category. Even if he was, so what?

We turn our backs to the homeless because we don’t want to see….we don’t want to see the potential ugly side of life and what our life could be….but you know what, that is exactly the point. The homeless guy…it is you. The homeless woman, it is you. We are all 1 or 2 or 3 steps away from our lives changing drastically in a heartbeat. Who is going to be there for you? Count your blessings if you already thought of someone who would take you in, love you, care for you.

And don’t ever forget there are thousands out there who are just not as damn lucky as we all are, in this moment.

The story of Mr. Lam’s beating shook me up and moved me to take the one immediate action I could think of: to dedicate my 50k North Face Endurance Race to this man.

And so I did. 920x920

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