Sunday, October 15, 2006

Forgiveness

Earlier this month, a gunman opened fire in an Amish school and killed five school girls before committing suicide. The Amish response to this carnage was to forgive the gunman.

It was an unexpected response. Perhaps due to media exposure, we're most familiar with the smoldering anger that families of victims often nurse for years, intent on seeking revenge for the wrongs inflicted upon their loved ones. It's sad to see this when it happens, because one can see the sorrow, anger, and hatred literally eat away at these people. After all, thoughts of anger and hatred will never harm the perpetrator of the crime, but will always harm the bearer of these thoughts. The resulting sleepless nights and anger-filled days poisons in ways that eventually make people unrecognizable from who they were before.
But it's easy to stand back and say that the nursing of these negative emotions only cause further harm and thus should not be done. If one of our loved ones was the victim, dare we imagine that we know how we would we respond?

So the Amish response was very unexpected, and thoroughly humbling. They did not have to travel the usual sadness and anger filled road before reaching the destination of forgiveness. They grieve, but forgiveness is so a part of who they are, that it too was a natural immediate response to suffering. They were able to see beyond themselves and their families, and understood that they were all victims. The gunman suffered, and the gunman's family suffered. Their forgiveness allows not only compassion for the perpetrator but compassion for themselves; it allows their community to heal.

These are a peaceful people who truly live their faith, and their willingness to forgive serves as an example that all of us can learn from. Perhaps, if we were more like our Amish brethren, hatred and war could be a thing of the past.

photo credit

3 Comments:

Anonymous Moof said...

Great post! They're an example to all of us.

11:11 PM  
Blogger ipanema said...

We really can learn so much from the Amish.

2:49 AM  
Blogger always learning said...

hi ladies - so true. I think the best part is that forgiveness is so ingrained that it really comes to their help in times of need.

11:10 AM  

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