When I saw the photo of Taliesan Myrddin Namkai-Meche, age 23, in his graduation cap and gown it
took my breath away. It is not just that he was young. It was that, for just an instant, I thought he was my son who lives in Portland and went to Reed College too. The resemblance was so striking that I began to weep… as a mother. His mother called him her baby boy and shining bright star.
They are so beautiful and brave, these men who rode the Portland MAX train that day. The two who died: Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, and Rick Best, 53, a veteran who lived in a Portland suburb with his family. The only survivor, Michah Fletcher, is a 21-year-old poet. I weep for them all, and for the girls whose lives were at risk.
I wonder: at what point did the poison take hold in the mind of the assailant? Was it during the presidential campaign of 2016? Was it while watching Fox news for years prior? Was it trolling the dark recesses of social boards where hate and anger are reduced to one-liners, and shaming so commonplace? Was it when something happened, like being denied mental health services or losing a job?
We watch as our neighbors and friends, people we once knew as kind, spew similar sentiments and know that this is long past politics and no longer harmless. Uncle Joe makes no sense, but there is no talking him out of it. His face is red with rage. He’s gone over the edge too, into a dark place that reason and facts cannot reach. And where are the brave political heroes?
Where are those who will stand for good? Where are those who will show moral courage and who will lead us with moral conviction and love? Will they take their lessons from these heroes–by standing strong in the face of fear and anger? By stepping up to protect the marginalized and oppressed? Yes, indeed, we are all on this train.
The last words of Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche were these: “Tell everyone on this train I love them.”
My prayer is this: May this love be a force for good… a beacon on which we we carry forward to reclaim hearts and minds, starting with our own. May we all to have the courage and strength to take a stand, whatever the cost. May we confront shadow without falling into it… and allow love to be our beacon…. a love demonstrated in full for everyone on this train.