FONT

MORE STORIES


In the wake of the MAX light-rail line slayings, a Portland writer encourages us to hold tight to the words of Asha Deliverance.

Give it up for love.

How do we do that? How can we possibly do that, given the terrible serpent of a line running from the top of Micah David-Cole Fletcher's jaw down to the middle of his neck? Or the wife and four children left to grieve Ricky John Best?

Or the golden laurel on Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche's graduation cap, celebrating the hours of learning and labor devoted to his Reed College thesis?

How do we give it up for love when hate took away so much, in a matter of minutes?

We do it because at Saturday's vigil, Asha Deliverance urged us to do it. Asha Deliverance, Taliesin's mother. Asha Deliverance who told the Ashland Daily Tidings, her hometown paper: "I can't hate ... I have no blame."

Give it up for love.

It took a lifetime — three lifetimes — to create the single moment when Taliesin and Ricky and Micah stepped forward on the MAX train last Friday. In trying to calm a man hurling verbal abuse at two young girls, Taliesin and Ricky and Micah were acting out of love and concern — for strangers.

There's no top-10 tips for how to do this. It's not learned from 140 characters. We're not one swipe away from enlightenment. Yet we can hold tight to Asha's words like a mantra, repeating them over and over, trying to see the world and ourselves through their lens.

Give it up for love.

Hate is seductive because it demands so little of us. To embrace hate, we only have to reach out and seize one other word, grip it tight and refuse to let it go. Things are black or they are white. You are with us or you are against us. You belong here, in this town or this city or this state or this nation, or you don't.

Love is painful because it asks so much. To love is to let go of dogma and certainty and a sense of safety. To love is to reject hate and recognize the humanity of the one who espouses it. To love is to call out the unacceptable — our failure to provide mental health services, offender rehabilitation programs and clear-eyed, equal justice to all of our city's inhabitants — and accepting that our local elected officials are human beings, trying to make their way towards solutions.

"And" is a warrior word, an indefatigable word, a bridge between two seemingly disparate positions.

On Monday morning, Multnomah County Republican Chair James Buchal told The Guardian newspaper that it might be time to use paramilitary forces like Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters to protect Republicans at public events.

These extremist, antigovernment groups are heavily armed.

Inviting them would do nothing but escalate the tension in this, or any, city. It's important to acknowledge the fear behind Buchal's words — and also to note there's been 50 reported hate crimes against non-white, immigrant, Jewish and LGBTQ Oregonians since Trump's election. The Republican party is the ideological home of prominent members like Ana Navarro who publicly denounce racism — and it's entirely too accommodating of avowed racists within its ranks. We can see our politically partisan neighbors, colleagues, and friends first as neighbors, colleagues and friends — and we can oppose the Republican sitting in the White House with every fiber of our being.

Give it up for love.

Love can be terribly complex and it can also be devastatingly simple.

Micah's friends say he is overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support he has received.

When asked if he was surprised by his father's actions, Ricky's son Eric said: "Honestly, no. He would talk to every one of his kids. He would make sure that we were loved."

Rachel Macy, a MAX passenger, remembers Taliesin's last words as these: "Tell everyone on this train I love them."

Give it up for love.

We may not know exactly how to do it and we will make mistakes in the attempt, but we owe it to these men and their families and the young girls they defended and their families, to try.

Angela Uherbelau is a writer who lives in Northeast Portland. You can read more of her writing at angelauherbelau.contently.com.

Contract Publishing

Go to top