I knew I would have to face something bad at home, but I didn’t know what it was.
As I made my way there I had to go through a mall made entirely out of cardboard. I passed by some teens and asked them how things were at “home” (there was no name for this place). They stared at me with blank eyes. They had no idea what I was talking about.
Eventually I found my way inside a Best Buy. When I looked around I saw that everyone was laying on the floor, hiding behind something. I realized I needed to get out of the open and hide, too.
I lay on the ground and then wondered what I was hiding from. I also realized that everyone around me were strangers and nobody knew my name. And I didn’t know who I could trust and who I couldn’t. I, somehow, came to the conclusion that we were hiding from zombies. I thought about how I would protect myself from the zombies. I felt so out of place. I was afraid. I didn’t know what I was doing or how I would do it. But I did know that I was there and that when the attack happened I would do what needed to be done, whatever that would be.
This is when my alarm went off. The realization that I was dreaming came with a huge relief and I thanked the universe that it was all just a dream.
A week ago two men were murdered on a MAX train when they were coming to the aide of two teenagers being harassed by a white supremacist. One of the teens was black. The other was wearing a hijab. Another man was also stabbed but survived.
This incident has deeply affected me, on many levels. My first thought was, “that could have been Raf (my husband).” He takes MAX everyday and has encountered a fair amount of crazy on the commute. Then they released the names and pictures of the victims. One was a father and an army veteran. The other was a recent Reed College graduate, a bright future ahead of him. The survivor is a 21 year old poet. All of them were strangers. But they all did the right thing. They confronted hate. They did what we have all been told to do. They were brave. And they died in the process.
They didn’t know they were going to die on Friday when they boarded to train to commute home from work.
The last words that Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche said were, “Tell everyone on the train that I love them.”
What would my last words be? Would they be those words? I don’t know. Those are some incredible last words.
These are a few thoughts that are running through my head at the moment.
We finished our Precept Study at my Zen Center. During our discussion we each got a chance to talk. The MAX killings were on my mind so I talked about them. I said, “I don’t know what this has to do with the Precepts, though.” However, after our discussion (and with the help of our teacher) I understand now.
The men who stood up last Friday were coming from that place deep inside where we do the thing that is right. And we only really know it’s the right thing when we are in a precise moment. It comes from that very quiet, still place within each of us. In Buddhism we call that Buddha Nature. We have Buddha nature in each of us. There is a Bodhisattva in each of us. In each moment we can choose the Bodhisattva. These men chose the Bodhisattva.
I am unbelievably inspired by the outpouring of love from the people of Portland that has come out of all of this. I am inspired by the last words of Taliesan Myrddin Namkai-Meche. I am inspired by Micah Fletcher who said that, “we need to protect each other.”
We need to protect each other. We need to love each other.
Zombies exist. How do we see them? They are not wandering around with rotting flesh on the outside. They are rotting on the inside. We will know them by the hate that spews out of them. Our weapon with which to fight them is love.