It's a Mad, Mad World
YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia
Blog, Walter Lopez
Apr 23, 2010
Fifty-nine year old Tien Sheng Yu died Tuesday after suffering head injuries and falling into a coma. He was punched in the face and fell upon impact, which lead to the sustained head injuries that eventually caused his death. Reports cite no provocation, which has caused uproar among citizens of Oakland, where Yu was assaulted.
These events have led me to question the moral fabric that makes up our society. The disturbing trend that seems to be commonplace nowadays—senseless beatings, robberies, and murders—all started with the decline of chivalry. You may have heard the claims that “chivalry is dead,” and while the old idiom is widely disregarded as simple cliché, it is certainly a truthful assessment of society. Civic harmony and decency have declined sharply and random acts of violence or staples of news reports now.
Perhaps these niceties are antiquated and make up just a fragment of our daily routine—the world seems to spin faster with our quick strides through the crowded streets. It’s as if people are too wrapped up in their own world to be polite. In the wake of events occurring around California—the Richmond rape some months ago, the countless robberies, and now Mr. Yu’s death—we should all make a concerted effort and take the time to instill manners in ourselves once again. The “old ways” didn’t work, and now these events beg a change in paradigm—no more of this “everyone for themselves” mentality.
I rode MUNI recently and a misunderstanding occurred between a Latino man and an African-American man. The latter misheard the former, and it led to a violent attack. The Latino man, aware of the stupidity of the fight, told the African-American man tat he “loved him,” which incited even more anger on his behalf. A stranger ended up breaking up the fight and forcing the attacker out of the bus. This is a situation that could have been diffused, and as I sat there idly I wondered if I could have helped prevent this fight. Granted, sometimes helping out strangers can lead to more harm than good, which means you should always use a peaceful approach and think carefully about your situation.
It is important to remain calm and cool headed when trying to diffuse violence and sometimes the most feasible approach is to contact the authorities. Tien Sheng Yu was defending his son, Jin Cheng Yu, after the assailants reportedly struck him in the face. The concerned father attempted to question the two assailants as to why they had struck his son, and the brutes retaliated by striking him and further pummeling the son.
Yu’s death has emanated throughout the bay area. This capillary blood spill is trickling down into communities and affecting everyone, whether they were involved or not. Someone lost their father, and while it is unclear whether there were racial motives in the beatings, the question is being asked.
Lost amidst the media chaos is the fact that a man lost his father. Jin Cheng Yu has to deal with the fact that he asked his father to come with him on the shopping trip—that if not for his urge to shop, his father may still be around. He has to deal with the fact that he chose to tell his father about the assault, which provoked him to seek out the assailants and eventually be struck by one of them. The weight on his shoulders is enough to buckle his knees, and that burden is one we should work as a community to lessen.
I can only imagine the pain in his heart, knowing that his father was slain in his defense. I don’t know if I would be able to forgive myself, but what I do know is that I would appreciate any support sent my way. We have to reach out to Jin by doing more than offering our condolences—we have to show him that his loss isn’t in vain. Let’s help someone older than us, or befriend someone of a different culture or color—let’s extend a helping hand to someone we wouldn’t normally talk to.
Jin, I want you to know that this senseless act transcends the racial boundaries that ignorance has pigeonholed us into. The violent act that claimed your father’s life can serve a purpose in molding the future of California and the minorities that make up the population should we as a whole will it to. We don’t have to imagine a utopian society, but imagine news headlines filled with people helping each other—Asians, African-Americans, Latinos, and all other minorities uniting for a greater good in the name of your father.
There will, without a doubt, be those who wish to point to the criminals’ pasts as a “cause” for the attack. While these claims may hold some weight, it does not justify the horrendous attack these assailants acted out, and it doesn’t lessen the accountability of their actions. If you have had a troubled past, why make a troubled future for yourself?
There are always those who wish to give criminals a scapegoat. There are even people who try and justify their actions. The suspects being held both have prior robberies on their record. Young people seem to be falling deeper into this downward spiral. Is respect really that difficult to give? The priors on their records blacklisted them, and these assailants did little to rebuke or vindicate themselves for their prior mistakes. A second chance at freedom is just that, a second chance—the pair of people had an opportunity to make something of themselves, but unfortunately they will have to serve as examples for other men of color as to what not to do.
The sad truth of the matter is that one stupid act will smear itself across the faces of a million innocent people. Young brown and black people across the state (and perhaps the country) will face even more prejudice from those who don’t understand them, and unfortunately it will be difficult to wipe ourselves clean of this matter. I am not a violent person—I hold doors, help the homeless, share the wealth on payday—but sadly someone may view me as a less than stellar person because of two peoples’ stupid actions. I know people from all walks of life that have done things that harmed themselves and others that have changed for the better with simple guidance and tolerance—it isn’t impossible by any means. A friend of mine went from a thief and drug dealer, to a Christian churchgoer, to a stoner who works at a bank and is helping Latinos invest their money properly.
I hope the perpetrators realize the negative footprint they left on people of color. I hope they realize the pain and strife they have cause on an entire family. I also hope that from here, communities around California can unite and help prevent future acts of violence like this. There is no need for further strain on current interracial relations—we should all preach tolerance at a time of trepidation.
We don’t know where this will end—we can pray that this will uplift communities into a state of tolerance, that this senseless act will put an end to acts like this. Perhaps this tragedy will lead to efforts in uniting ethnicities of all colors and cultures of all kinds—this loss of life has the potential to drive rallies for peace and even events to encourage cultural understanding. Even if this act wasn’t done in racism, we should emphasize the fact that we should unite.
Will we change for the better?
Will this tragic loss have a positive impact on our future generations?
Is this the catalyst for change?
-- Walter Lopez1 of 1