Remembering Eric Tang
Tue Jun 26, 2007 at 12:19:48 PM PST
Yesterday, I received some very sad news in my inbox from Susan Lerner, Executive Director of the
California Clean Money Campaign:
We are deeply saddened that last week our friend and former colleague Eric Tang died in an accident at a waterfall outside of Mexico City. He was two months into a yearlong Latin American odyssey, an adventure fueled by all the wonder, joy and humanity that were Eric's.
Eric was an early member of the CCMC team. As a student at UCLA, he interned at CCMC and became so passionate about the issue that he continued as a volunteer until a staff position opened up. As CCMC's communications coordinator, Eric brought keen intelligence, ready wit, and infinite enthusiasm to advancing Clean Money throughout California.
One of the great things about working for progressive causes is that you meet and work with some truly incredible people. Eric was one of those. It says something that the news has hit me hard, though I only had contact with him 3 times.
I first met Eric at a local DFA meeting. As Communications Coordinator for the California Clean Money Campaign, he was letting us know about Assembly Bill 583 that would help bring public funding of campaigns to California. That effort later flowed into Prop 89. I remember it was impossible to leave that meeting without a much clearer understanding of the subject, and a desire to get involved. "Infinite enthusiasm" aptly describes the impression you got when you saw Eric in action.
As I read the announcement further, I learned more about what Eric stood for.
"Our fundamental belief," Eric wrote on his "Smart with Heart" website, "is that a life lived in accordance with reason and guided by compassion for others will generate the sort of social change this world so desperately needs. Knowledge can be a powerful tool in itself, but compassion provides the true impetus for using what we know to cultivate the world as we feel it ought to be."
Using his gifts, guided by compassion - If only more people lived their lives in that way... While it hasn't been updated in a while, Smart with Heart gives you a feel for what he believed in and worked for. It's easy to find other examples on the web that illustrate his passion for life and commitment to cause. He spoke out against the war in Iraq when many were still uncommitted. He traveled to Africa to build a library in a refugee camp. He used any method available to get the word out about his belief in the promise of clean money elections. He combined his love of fun, people, travel and service on his fateful trip to Latin America.
Here I am, writing a diary about someone I barely knew. But what an important thing to remember: that one person can still impact other lives, even with just a few contacts. If any of you were closer to Eric, by all means use the comments to share stories. As we fight our uphill battles and in moments of despair wonder whether it's worth it, it's that much more critical to remember that it DOES make a difference. Eric Tang clearly made one.
We're never promised a tomorrow - just a today. People like Eric show us how to make the most of each and every one, and I hope that the inspiration he left behind can help ease the sting of this very hard blow.