As a child, I loved watching the TV show Kung Fu. David Carradine played the main character Kwai Chang Caine. It was a brilliant combination of Western movie with an Eastern component. Caine was a Shaolin priest that moved to America in search of his family roots.
During those years as a kid, I was basically a Christian and didn’t even think about the Buddhist component to what made Kwai Chang unique. Like a lot of kids the martial arts was the main attraction. The life lessons on the show were more than self-defense, however, they were Eastern wisdom not generally heard in our Western culture.
A few years ago, after being tired of current TV programming, I started buying the Kung Fu series along with others to watch. I finally got all three seasons. So for several years I’ve been really enjoying the series, only this time appreciating the Buddhist/Shaolin/Taoist philosophy intermingled with the Western brawls.
It was a particular shock to hear of David’s death as he’s been a frequent visitor in our home on evenings that we’d watch those old episodes. I would have never imagined his life would end in such tragic and disgraceful way. I truly hope the shame can be lifted for this great actor who gave us such a wonderful gift with his acting the part of Kwai Chang Caine.
The events of his death really made me ponder the depths of a man’s heart. There’s a verse in the book of Proverbs that comes to mind:
The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters,
but a man of understanding draws them out. (20.5 NIV)
We as the audience, really come to like and “know” the characters our actors play, but of course they have lives outside the screen that can be hard for us to remember.
It is my prayer and wish that David’s family and the reputation of his good work remains what it deserves. He was an amazing actor and changed many lives in a positive way. It’s amazing how much difference one person can make, all the while his own personal life may be quite troubled.
It is helpful to note that our lives are much like the black and white checkered pattern of a mosaic pavement, each having good and bad, happy and unfortunate. No one can escape the evil and suffering that comes from merely being alive. Good and evil are ever with us. Hopefully this will temper our judgment.
Whatever the outcome of the investigation as to the full nature of David Carradine’s death, I will continue to remember him for the best things he did that impacted my life and hope others will do the same.