By Diane Silver
As we start our week and ponder the meaning of North Korea's possible nuclear bomb test and listen to the saber rattling of everyone from the White House to China, I think we should take a moment to consider the Amish.
The Amish community in Pennsylvania just suffered the worst injury anyone can -- the death of children. One gunman, who must certainly have been mentally ill, burst into an Amish school. He killed five girls and seriously wounded five others.
I've already blogged about the fact that half the mourners at his funeral were Amish.
I've also gone back and looked at earlier stories from last week. AP reported Thursday:
As they struggle with the slayings of five of their children in a one-room schoolhouse, the Amish in this Lancaster County village are turning the other cheek, urging forgiveness of the killer and quietly accepting what comes their way as God's will.
"They know their children are going to heaven. They know their children are innocent ... and they know that they will join them in death," said Gertrude Huntington, a Michigan researcher and expert on children in Amish society.
"The hurt is very great," Huntington said. "But they don't balance the hurt with hate."
The Amish also have been reaching out to the family of the gunman, Charles Carl Roberts IV, 32, who committed suicide during the attack. Dwight Lefever, a Roberts family spokesman, said an Amish neighbor comforted the Roberts family hours after the shooting and extended forgiveness to them.
"I hope they stay around here and they'll have a lot of friends and a lot of support," Daniel Esh, a 57-year-old Amish artist and woodworker whose three grandnephews were inside the school during the attack, said of the Robertses.
Huntington, the authority on the Amish, predicted they will be very supportive of the killer and his wife, "because judgment is in God's hands: 'Judge not, that ye be not judged."I honestly can't say that we should respond to North Korea as the Amish would. I guess I'm too frightened to think about going to such a place with open hands and asking: Why are you so fearful, and how can we as a nation help?
Certainly the Bush Administration would never do that. Of course, the rhetoric of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney may be one reason why North Korea's leader thinks he needs the bomb. That rhetoric probably feeds nicely into the paranoia of a dictator and the inner workings of a country that may be as dysfunctional as the gunman who killed those Amish girls.
But I do wonder: What if we stopped rattling our sabers? What if we stopped attempting to balance the hurt of 9/11 with hate, and with further hurt or at least with the threat of it? What kind of world would we live in then?
Some other interesting thoughts on the Amish reaction to the shootings, can be found at:
A Glimpse of Grace