© 2023 WNIJ and WNIU
Northern Public Radio
801 N 1st St.
DeKalb, IL 60115
Northern Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

Li Is A Man On A Mission

2016 was a standout year for a lot of people. For Bing Bing Li, it was the year he started walking from Vancouver, British Columbia across North America. 


He said his goal is to walk across every continent in 30 years: “But [not] Australia and Antarctica,” said Li. “There’s barely anybody there, just a few researchers.”



He just walked through Sterling, Rochelle, and then DeKalb. He’s on a mission to spread one message -- practice equal and unconditional love to all things. DeKalb was Li’s longest stopover in the region. He packed up Wednesday after spending a few nights at the home of local resident Chris Nissen.


“I'm doing this not to see the world as an adventurer... but to spread this message of equal and unconditional love for all living things,” he said.


Credit Sarah Jesmer
Li holds a map of Illinois he uses to plan his journey. He's got no phone, no email address, no technology, and says he likes it that way. He says he gets paper maps for free from tourist centers before entering a new state.

Nissen’s house is full of pets, including birds, and they sand as Li ate breakfast. The sound of birds is significant to him. He said it’s what he heard when he first made the decision to walk in April 2016. The Chinese-Canadian was sleeping in a tent in a large public park in Vancouver after working as an engineer and restaurant owner. Li said the sounds of nature made him make the final decision.


“I feel really mother nature -- the universe -- was telling me, ‘You can't just do this spread the message to one city in one country. You gotta walk, walk across the whole world to spread it.’”


He says his message gives him purpose and that saved his life when he was experiencing suicidal ideations. He was feeling unsatisfied, but found spreading a message of love was enough to keep him going. He said his journey has made him a more peaceful person. 


“I've been having more and more peace, because I feel I've been evolving, you know, in the right direction,” said Li.


Li said the world today has too much hardness, restlessness, and that people are too self-serving. And that’s why he wants to reconnect through personal conversation. 


“I wouldn't say it's religious, because there's no theology. There's nothing supernatural [or] divine in it. There's no ritual, there's no dress code or foot code. So I wouldn’t call it a religion, it's just, as I told you, it started just as a feeling that burst out of my heart,” said Li. 


He accepts no money or offers for rides. The ‘no rides’ part is because he’s also trying to reduce his carbon footprint by making footprints of his own. And they’ll be through the snow for the upcoming days. 


Credit Sarah Jesmer
Li blows snow off his cart he's carried with him throughout his journey. He says he's not worried about the upcoming winter months because he believes people will be there to help if he needs it.

He headed out Thursday on his way to Elburn from DeKalb, toting a long his cart of belongings, including his clothes and a sleeping bag. It looks like a wagon with white boards on the side. Red letters on the side spell out his mission and what he wants people to understand. 


He’s headed to Chicago, where he’ll stay for at least a month. Li said he just wants your ear, but does appreciate the occasional help. The only thing he does accept is food donations and an occasional warm place to sleep. 


“People's hospitality has surprised me quite a few times,” he said. Li said he’s been offered free hotel rooms and restaurant meals.  “That's how willing people are to give me help.”


If he can find neither, he says he’s okay with sleeping outside or at a public space like a post office. He said this will be his coldest winter to date, but he’s not worried. He said he doesn’t think about much while he’s walking. 


“I kind of shut down my mind and just feel the moment,” he said. 


He said he doesn’t always get to see the impression he’s made on people, but sometimes gets glimpses. 


“Some people are in tears, they hug me in tears [and tell] me ‘You have changed my life, from today on I'm going to be more loving, more caring.’ So I do see the effects which I believe [are] positive effects I have on people,” he said. “But how much, you know, I don't get to see the result,” he said.  


Li said if you see him on the street, stop, say hello, and listen to what he’s got to say.


“Equal, unconditional love for all of our fellow creatures across all space, time, matter, energy is the only way out of the human misery. And that comes down to action, to the world live in, to the things we do,” he said.


Li said it starts with one step in that positive direction.