Green Room

Champion of the Light

posted at 1:01 am on April 26, 2010 by

By now, you’ve probably watched the death of Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax on video.  In the early morning hours of April 18, on a sidewalk in Queens, he stepped forward to save a woman from a mugger.  The mugger had a knife.  Multiple stab wounds to the torso didn’t stop Tale-Yax from trying to chase his killer down.  His blood ran out before his spirit did.

Twenty people walked past Tale-Yax as he lay dying on the street.  One of them used his cell phone to snap a photo, then continued on his way without calling for an ambulance.  ABC News found a psychologist to offer the insight that “we love violence in this culture.”

What a shallow and stupid analysis.  Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax didn’t die because those pedestrians loved violence.  He died because they didn’t love lifeenough.  They saw it broken and fading before them, but their instinct to protect and nourish it at all costs – which ran so strongly in Tale-Yax – was hopelessly diluted.  The dying man was homeless, and had nothing to bring to the endless war against evil except his heart, and the fragile body surrounding it.  The callous bystanders carried marvels of communications technology in their pockets, and could think of no use for them except snapping a couple of digital photos as souvenirs.

There is nothing more to say about those people, and the anemic culture that led them to treat life and death as problems for someone else to solve.  We gain nothing by studying the flocking behavior of sheep.  Let us remember, and honor, the sheepdog who died in their midst.

The shadow of murder has crawled through every human generation.  Sometimes it rears high above us, spreading dragon wings and roaring promises of conquest, holy war, and final solutions.  Other times it becomes small and dull, living in the static of a petty criminal’s thoughts, or burning as dark flames of rage within those who offer their souls as kindling.  Killing is easy.  People break easily.  A bit of sharp metal makes the task almost effortless.

In the moments before murder, Heaven sounds its horns, and calls good men and women to battle.  Those horns are not always easy to hear.  Their music rolls around caves filled with beasts who worship death as a god, through streets dotted with improvised explosive devices, and past locked doors that serve as uncertain shields between decent families and barbarian gangsters.  Last week, it swirled through the early morning air of a street in Queens, and a man with nothing to lose sacrificed everything to answer the call.

He was not the first, and will not be the last, to die in the defense of the innocent.  Whatever mistakes and misfortunes led him to spend his last days on the streets of New York, his final deeds earn him membership in a great company of soldiers, rescuers, protectors, and saints.  He lived a broken life, but he carried a priceless treasure of courage.  Let us all pray that if, someday, the horns that called him to destiny sound in our presence, our ears are as sharp as his, and the same spirit fills us.  The world has too many hollow men.

God bless and keep Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax, champion of the light.

Cross-posted at www.doczero.org.

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Comments

Spot on, as usual, Doc!

Our culture has become so afraid of dying that we are scared to death to live…

However, I don’t think this is just a modern problem. How many people passed by the dying man in Jesus’ parable of the “Good Samaritan” because they didn’t want to get their hands dirty?

Ace ODale on April 26, 2010 at 7:23 AM

Well written Doctor Zero.

Heralder on April 26, 2010 at 8:31 AM

Darn, Doc. My eyes are leaking.

publiuspen on April 26, 2010 at 9:10 AM

Heinlein gave an address at West Point once. He published it in Expanded Universe, and I must work from memory here: A young woman got her foot caught in a train track. Her fiance tried to free her as a train approached. A homeless man (“a bum”) joined to help him. They failed; all three died. Heinlein went on to say that it was the fiance’s privilege and duty to die for his woman, but the bum had no such motivation. He did it because it was the noble thing to do. Heinlein concluded “This is how a man lives. This is how a man dies.”

This is how a man lives. This is how a man dies.

njcommuter on April 26, 2010 at 10:43 AM

This is how a man lives. This is how a man dies.

njcommuter on April 26, 2010 at 10:43 AM

That brought both tears to my eyes and goosebumps on top. Thank you for sharing that.

Doc, thank you for your perspective as well. I remember that young woman from decades ago who was assaulted in NY, and the neighbors and passersby who heard her screams yet opted to turned away. No one went to her aid. No one called the police.

I don’t know what causes humans to become numb to another’s suffering and/or distress, but it does seem to occur most frequently in highly populated cities where just fighting for an inch of personal space seems to trump all other considerations.

Yet in the aftermath of 9/11, with an entire nation rushing to New Yorkers’ aid both physically and monetarily, you would have thought that New Yorkers’ might have gained some wisdom and perspective and compassion from the experience.

But the rest of us haven’t at all missed the most notable thing about that poor man’s death: It does not matter that he was homeless and experiencing hard times. That did not in any respect diminish the character of the man, composed of one who values life to the point of laying down his own in defense of another’s threatened life. Homelessness clearly and historically only offers a distraction for those in life who would try to marginalize and categorize people for political and sociological purposes, rather than look deeply at the core person so afflicted. Sad, sad.

My dear Hugo: Sleep well, sleep peacefully, and Godspeed. It would have been an honor to know you in life.

KendraWilder on April 26, 2010 at 3:32 PM

Amen. This resonates.

TheUnrepentantGeek on April 26, 2010 at 7:00 PM

God bless and keep Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax, champion of the light.

A homeless man has way more decency than all the rest who walked by. Live with that shame, loosers.

Schadenfreude on April 26, 2010 at 7:47 PM

We gain nothing by studying the flocking behavior of sheep. Let us remember, and honor, the sheepdog who died in their midst.

Amen.

amerpundit on April 26, 2010 at 7:57 PM

What a wonderful, Godly man! Please be gracious with him Lord!

Vntnrse on April 26, 2010 at 8:01 PM

Amen.

RIP.

CPT. Charles on April 26, 2010 at 8:28 PM

Exactly the right focus, Doc. Thanks for a great essay.

J.E. Dyer on April 26, 2010 at 8:37 PM

Amen.

Rightwingguy on April 26, 2010 at 8:45 PM

This man’s spirituality was on display in his defense of the innocent woman. Secularism reared it’s ugly head with the bystanders’ indifference to heroism and human suffering.
At a time when we as a country may be faced with the choice of standing and confronting pure evil, or cowering in silence, we can’t spare even one towering spirit, or watch it flicker out with inaction.
This was a haunting reflection on our “society”, and hopefully just an appalling and momentary lapse.
May his next life bring eternal reward.

ontherocks on April 26, 2010 at 8:46 PM

God bless and keep Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax, champion of the light.

Amen.

Weight of Glory on April 26, 2010 at 8:46 PM

Let us also remember and honor the Sheepdog who died for all of us.

Dubya Bee on April 26, 2010 at 9:08 PM

“God bless and keep Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax, champion of the light.”

+7%…!

Seven Percent Solution on April 26, 2010 at 9:12 PM

You always seem to sum it up just right, thank you again.

bluemarlin on April 26, 2010 at 9:55 PM

Greater love hath no man . . . .

God bless and keep Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax, champion of the light.

Amen.

AZCoyote on April 26, 2010 at 10:02 PM

Dr. Zero mentions the “sheepdog” citizen, soldier, public servant that Bill Whittle wrote about in one of his older essays before he moved the PJTV.

Not many of us survive in the “citizenry” ranks.

I’m Brooklyn born, but haven’t live in New York, nor visited for over 15 years. I’m a sheepdog and would have came to the aid of this man and that is not just lip service.

And………..I have no patience for the stunning selfishness exhibited by the folks who “walked on by”.

Have a good night’s sleep you curs!

Opposite Day on April 26, 2010 at 10:12 PM

*speechless*

Thank you

inviolet on April 26, 2010 at 10:32 PM

The world has too many hollow men.

Vacuous skulls, empty hearts, lost souls.

The fruits of progressivism.

Maquis on April 26, 2010 at 10:35 PM

Thanks to those moved by the quote. Now let me be a little more analytic.

The people who walked by were all to accustomed to seeing derelict men lying in the street, sometimes bleeding. We as a society have decided, bit by bit, that we will accept this. We will let mentally ill people wander the city streets rather than place them in custody AND care. We will not call for them to find homes, and when we give the job of sheltering them to the government, too often those shelters are unsafe.

I can’t say for sure that this helped to cause the death of Mr. Tale-Yax, any more than I can say for sure that letting people get away with smaller offenses led to a mugging, or that failure to properly punish armed robbery of strangers on the streets (“highway robbery”) helped to bring about the crime in the first place. But I nevertheless feel confident that, had we not lost our way as a society starting around 1960, this combination of murderous attack and lethal neglect could have been avoided.

His death was not meaningless, but it should have been needless. I fear that we as a society are too split to fix it, some of us wanting to go back to what worked and some of us sure that what worked was worse than what we have now.

njcommuter on April 26, 2010 at 10:39 PM

I fear that we as a society are too split to fix it, some of us wanting to go back to what worked and some of us sure that what worked was worse than what we have now.

njcommuter on April 26, 2010 at 10:39 PM

I wish that I didn’t agree, as that is a reality that if accurate, will ensure more of the same.
I would like to believe that a saturation point for virtue will occur before we give in to indifference as a common response to the violence and suffering that repeats in numbing regularity.

ontherocks on April 26, 2010 at 11:08 PM

Powerfully written, Doc. Poorly done, New Yorkers. In this day of cell phones, no one could be bothered to type THREE characters and push CALL?
I’d like to believe if this happened in Charlotte, or Louisville, or Salt Lake City, or Boise someone would have called an ambulance.
I’d like to believe…but in these degenerate times I’m not real confident.
R.I.P. brave Mr. Tale-Yax. May angels sing your praises.

Who is John Galt on April 26, 2010 at 11:26 PM

Doc, thank you for your perspective as well. I remember that young woman from decades ago who was assaulted in NY, and the neighbors and passersby who heard her screams yet opted to turned away. No one went to her aid. No one called the police.

Urban legend. See the Wiki article for the true story, which is considerably less dramatic:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitty_Genovese

Money quote:

While Genovese’s neighbors were vilified by the article, “Thirty-Eight onlookers who did nothing” is a misconception. The article begins:

“For more than half an hour thirty-eight respectable, law-abiding citizens in Queens watched a killer stalk and stab a woman in three separate attacks in Kew Gardens.”

The lead is dramatic but factually inaccurate. None of the witnesses observed the attacks in their entirety. Because of the layout of the complex and the fact that the attacks took place in different locations, no witness saw the entire sequence of events. Most only heard portions of the incident without realizing its seriousness, a few saw only small portions of the initial assault, and no witnesses directly saw the final attack and rape in an exterior hallway which resulted in Genovese’s death. Additionally, after the initial attack punctured her lungs (leading to her eventual death from asphyxiation), it is unlikely that she was able to scream at any volume.

Several witnesses did call the police, even though they weren’t sure what was happening or how serious it was.

sauropod on April 27, 2010 at 12:53 AM

Wow…

I am humbled.

lionheart on April 27, 2010 at 11:01 AM