On Friday, May 26, 2017, in Portland, Oregon, two people were killed and one was injured after a stabbing on a local metro train. The victims of the deadly stabbing attack are being hailed as heroes for intervening on behalf of two young women who were the apparent targets of the suspect’s anti-Muslim epithets.
Friday marked the start of Ramadan, a month-long fast observed by most of the world's 1.6 billion Muslims.
On Saturday, police identified the two men killed as Ricky John Best, age 53, who died at the scene; and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, who died at the hospital. “They were attacked because they did the right thing,” Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said Saturday. “Their actions were brave and selfless and should serve as an example and inspiration to us all. They are heroes.”
This one cuts to the bone for me, as the young man who died on the way to the hospital was a close friend of my first-born son. Taliesin… or as we knew him… Tilly… was in my son’s circle of friends growing up in Ashland, Oregon. Tilly was a member of an amazing Southern Oregon family that I would lovingly typify as a Great American Hippy Clan.
Tilly was one of eleven or twelve (I lost count a couple of decades ago) kids, who are all brilliant. Hell, the whole family is brilliant. I say Great American Hippie Clan, as all of the members of Tilly’s sprawling family are talented, intelligent and loving… all of them. The whole clan is blessed with entrepreneurial, Yankee ingenuity… brilliance and creativity… warm, loving hearts and a deep environmental love of nature and mother earth.
Tilly was no exception. He lived his life with integrity and grace. I remember one episode when the boys were in high school. One Saturday night, they were out in the woods, outside of town, attending an un-chaperoned celebratory activity, not uncommon for high-schoolers. One of the boys had clearly and seriously over-celebrated. It soon became clear that Tilly’s friend was in an over-dose emergency. Many of the kids panicked and fled the scene. Taliesin calmly called 911 and stayed with his unconscious friend, nursing him until the paramedics arrived.
You see, Tilly really was that hero being portrayed in the news. His whole short life was lived with integrity and compassion that was instilled in him, by a wonderfully loving family.
Now Tilly’s siblings and friends, mostly millennials, are discovering the harsh reality of lack of privacy in a 24/7 social media world. Their sorrow and grieving is being somewhat co-opted by those who wish to attach a political message to Tilly’s passing. What should be a time of remembrance is being played out on facebook, for the whole world to see. The cruel world intervenes in a time of mourning.
With that said… Taliesin’s bravery is a beacon of light, to be emulated in these dark times. He is the epitome of all that is right and good in this world.
I have always had a deep respect and high regard for Tilly and his clan. Each of them has demonstrated compassion for all creeds… all walks of life… the two legged, the four legged, the winged and those who crawl or swim. They have always defended all flora and fauna of our mother. It was Tilly’s sense of compassion and justice that compelled him to come to the two young girl’s assistance on Friday. He gave his last full measure defending decency, civility and justice in a world gone crazy.
Tilly will live in our hearts as a hero and great American Bodhisattva.
When my time comes ‘round and I give up the ghost, I expect to see Tilly’s smiling face, holding open the gates... patiently waiting for the rest of us. Go in peace young Taliesin… may your passing inspire us all to greater compassion...
There is a road, no simple highway
Between the dawn and the dark of night
And if you go, no one may follow
That path is for your steps alone
Ripple in still water
When there is no pebble tossed
Nor wind to blow
You who choose to lead must follow
But if you fall, you fall alone
If you should stand, then who's to guide you?
If I knew the way, I would take you home.
- the Grateful Dead