Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Amish on Forgiveness

The tragedy in the Amish School house this week has been haunting most of us. A lot of other bloggers have written on this and I held back because I honestly couldn't find anything of value to say. The fact that these were young women, shot execution style, is deplorable. The fact that this was not the only school shooting this week, is equally troubling. But, we all know that, and we all try to grapple with this. I have been far more shielded from this tragedy than my colleagues with young children in school. Many local schools ran drills on Monday to beef up their security in the case of a wayward shooter. I cannot even imagine these sorts of drills; certainly, when I was in school we never had such procedures and policies in place.

Given the horrific nature of this shooting, I was grateful for Shaila Dewan's piece in the NYTimes today. The subtext of this article is forgiveness. Dewan begins with Leroy Zook, the father of one of the teachers in the schoolhouse, who shook the hand of the killer's father-in-law.

Still, it is not unusual for the Amish to reach out to those who hurt them. When an Amish dies in a car accident, for example, the motorist is often invited to the funeral. Mr. Zook said he had shaken hands with Mr. Roberts’s father-in-law, whom he encountered at the home of the Fisher family, who had three daughters in the school. One escaped, another was wounded and the third was killed. Mr. Zook said such encounters helped the survivors victims heal.

All too often we see victims of these tragedies seek retribution, seek revenge, and their anger and disgust grows so hot that they soon become what they hated. Certainly this is what is behind so much of the "war on terror," a war so badly fought that all it does it escalate hate and violence.

I am grateful to see a newspaper piece on the Amish schoolhouse tragedy that doesn't serve to berserk us toward revenge and retaliation. And, I am humbled by the faith and humanity of the Amish.