Tuesday, May 30, 2017

"Tell everyone I love them"

I finally allowed myself to read a news story about what exactly transpired on that Portland train last Friday. How a white man came on board and started hurling invectives at two young women of color, one wearing a hijab. How one man, and then a second, and then a third tried to calm the violence, tried to reason with the hateful passenger and even to form a human shield between him and the young women. How as the train pulled into the next station, the man, whose surname was Christian, and who declared himself a white supremacist, lunged at the three men and stabbed each one in the neck, before running off the train. The other passengers called the medics, they knelt beside the men, two of them dying. They talked to them and prayed with them and called them angels. They thanked them and told them they were not alone, these men who might have looked away, but who stepped into the fray to turn evil aside, and who died in the act of being loving.


We should all know their names: Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23. Rick Best, 52. Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21. One of the men who died was a military man, father of four. The other was a free spirit, long blond hair, joyful smiles in his photographs. The third was a student at Portland State. He lived. The young blond one was the same age as my daughter, a recent graduate of Reed College. An older black women knelt beside him, a single mother of five children on her way to classes at the community college. She took off her tank top and pressed it to the wound on his neck, whispering to him, "Stay with us. You are such a beautiful soul." As the medics arrived and placed him on a stretcher, he said to the woman, "Tell everyone on this train I love them." His last words.

I cannot stop weeping.

The story is here.

There was the very worst of humanity on that train, but there was the best of it, too. And despite those who died, the goodness and love were more powerful, more enduring than all the vile  hatred that spewed from the unrepentant killer. I cannot stop thinking about all the people from so many different walks, who collided in that one tragic moment last Friday. It is such a metaphor for the moment in which this nation finds itself, the murderous hate, countered by bravery and righteousness. Who will win the soul of the nation? I have to believe that good will win, otherwise I might just lay down and die.



18 comments:

  1. I can't stop weeping either.
    Xoxo
    Barbara

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    1. Barbara, it took me days to let it in. Somehow i knew it would shred me. But they have been so brave; how can we look away.

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  2. I feel your pain, and hope that you are right...

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    1. e, there are good people in our midst. let's hope no more of them have to die for simply standing up for human decency.

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  3. What I would pray for is a time when heroes like this are not needed. This is simply too much for anyone to bear. And yet, we must.

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  4. You've said it beautifully. Thank you.

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  5. Wow. A tragic, beautiful story. I too am weeping. Thank you for your intense writing of here.

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    1. Joanne, our tears honor the sacrifice they made.

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  6. all I could do is cry for them. I wish hate would be gone....

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    1. Drita, i'm starting to think such virulent hate is a form of insanity. how could that killer not be insane?

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  7. I'm not sure it's a question of ultimately winning. I think good vs. evil is a constant struggle. It will be a struggle as long as there are people.

    The assailant was yelling in court, too, did you see that? A completely irrational nut.

    I hope if I am ever confronted with such a situation I have the bravery to respond the way those guys did. You gotta admire that courage and conviction.

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  8. My heart is just broken that this could happen here, in my city. But it's also humbled that this city holds brave and loving souls who will protect. How could there be such hatred here, such evil?
    Portland will never forget these young men. They are still among us, their souls linger, they will always be a part of us.

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  9. One person can do so much damage to the good and/or innocent among us. The only comfort is as you pointed out, the good people who come from every corner to help. And even that doesn't balance the heartbreak.

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  10. I cried when I learned more about it and am crying now, because you have written about it better than anyone. Thank you.

    To me, one point you make is most important: in the face of so much hatred and ignorance, we have to focus on the good people. We have to, because they are proof that no matter how dark it has gotten, there is still good and it will not be overwhelmed.

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  11. Hate does seem to be a form of insanity. Goodness and love are stronger than hate and far less lonely. I'm sure of that. The three men who tried to protect the young women and Rachel Macy are living proof. She didn't run off the train in fear but stepped forward to help one of the wounded men. These tears are healing. Thank you for all you wrote.

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