Back in May, I got a very unsettling call from Adam letting me know that he was beat up on the beach in Maui, and that he was in the hospital recovering from surgery. His jaw had been broken in three places and several of his teeth had been kicked out.
A group of Hawaiian gang members, who seemed friendly at first, approached Adam on the beach. They exchanged friendly conversation and started playing music together, then suddenly, out of nowhere, they turned on him. As he was lying on the ground, one of the men took Adam’s guitar and smashed it over his head and another picked up a boulder and threw it on his face. Adam went unconscious but witnesses reported that another member had a knife and was about to stab him when someone yelled that the cops were there, so they all scattered. Evidently, this type of hate crime is not uncommon in Hawaii. It could have been a gang initiation or an anti “Haole” hate crime. The homeless are easy targets.
Here is a sound byte of Adam’s account of what happen during a phone call I received from him while in Hawaii.
Also, while Adam was recovering in the hospital he got a call from his mother letting him know that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and only had a short time to live. Adam decides to return to Seattle and uses a GoPro I sent him to document his last day in Maui.
Once again, it is Adam’s attitude despite these hardships that I have found remarkable. He told me that he felt a wave of sadness toward the guys that beat him up because “they were in such a dark place” to have done such a thing. Instead of feeling anger towards them he was more upset about his guitar being broken than his broken jaw.
Adam’s outlook reminds me of the Tibetan Monk, Palden Gyatso, who I met when I was doing my first book on Tibet. The Chinese communist threw him and his whole monastery in prison. He spent 33 years there and was repeatedly beaten and tortured. He was one of three survivors out of 60 monks. He told me that as a young monk he wasn’t a very good student, but he remembered one of his lessons very well: When you are suffering, the quickest way out of your predicament is to help others who are suffering, which is what he did. He said, “I think that’s why I survived.”
Next week we will hear from Adam about a lesson of his own that he learned from this beating.