Heroic effort has brought Kingdom together for cause we can all believe in, but surge of emotion carries real physical dangers
It’s becoming dangerously easy for everyone, including Toon Bodyslam himself, to get a bit carried away. The “Toon phenomenon” sweeping Thailand boosts the almost miraculous aspect of what he is doing while blurring the equally important issue of the man’s health. There’s now a daily debate on whether the rock star turned charity runner can last the unimaginable distance of his south-to-north marathon, but it’s taking place with underlying confidence that he will, because he is doing a noble thing.
The truth is that this world can be cruel, and bad fortune spares nobody. Toon, whose real name is Artiwara Kongmalai, is a passionate runner but not a professional athlete, which means he must be very careful. The ultimate distance is daunting and the weather, the pressure and what he aims to achieve daily are taking their toll. You might argue that he is in good hands, with personal and state-provided medical personnel accompanying him and taking care of him every step of the way. That eases some concern, but everyone must be rigidly scientific when it comes to his health.
Potential risks he is facing include herniated disc problems and cardio issues. His knee joints are also under incredible stress, pounded for kilometre after kilometre. Some of the problems may be developing slowly out of sight, while others are more dramatic and immediate. Medical experts must be on the alert for signs of both short-term and long-term physical damage.
Toon has just reached Songkhla, covering just a fraction of the intended distance. He must not feel pressured to run every day and, having become a major inspiration with his noble agenda, must never feel embarrassed to stop early or take an unscheduled break. The good news is that judging from his interviews, he is well aware of all this. In a recorded talk last year, he said it didn’t matter how fast or how far he runs, as long as his message gets across.
No worries there. His message is getting across loud and clear: hospitals need our help. And Toon has underlined he doesn’t want the issue to be a flash in the pan, forgotten by the public as just another news story as soon as he steps off the road.
He is right. The efficiency of hospitals is something that affects us all, every day, unlike abstract political issues which come and go. He is also doing what politicians are supposed to do, going door to door to promote a truly worthy agenda, not one designed to discredit opponents or further anyone’s vested interests.
He is showing people who matter how money collected from the public should be spent. And all the while, he has proven that a genuinely “pure” agenda will get the support of everybody. His action hasn’t polarised opinions, since he is addressing the real needs of fellow citizens. In other words doing the right thing for the right reason.
It does not mean, though, that his campaign must override a fundamental concern – Toon’s own health. The current surge of adoration may be serving as an extra push, but those involved must guard against being overwhelmed by the emotion or enthusiasm. Toon has made a sacrifice and served as a great example. The important thing now is that the inspiration must endure. We should all be in this for the long run.