On October 2nd, 2006, the peace and harmony of the Amish Community was shattered by tragedy. Ten Amish girls aged 6-13 had been shot in their one-room schoolhouse. By the time police arrived, two of the girls were dead, a third died in a police officerís arms, and two more died later in local hospitals. Five other girls were in critical condition.
Charles Robert IV had done the unthinkable and brought violence in the form of a gun into the non-violent, and peaceful community of gentle people. Not only had he taken the lives of children, he also took his own life afterward, leaving in his wake not only the grief stricken Amish community, but also his own wife and three young children.
As the news of the shootings spread, people from all over Lancaster country came together in prayer and support for the Amish families involved, as well as for Robertís wife and children. Donations and gestures of sympathy flowed in from all over the world.
In the midst of media coverage describing the details of the shootings and the background of the man involved, something quite unexpected happened. Even in their grief, the Amish community was not casting blame. Instead, they were reaching out in compassion towards the Roberts family.
A grandfather of one of the girls who was killed expressed forgiveness for the killer on the afternoon of the shooting. Amish neighbors visited the Roberts family the same day to comfort them. The Roberts family was invited to one of the Amish funerals, and the Amish outnumbered the non-Amish at Charles Robertís funeral.
This outpouring of sympathy, love and compassion is a commonplace occurrence for the Amish people. They follow the teachings of Jesus, whose main teaching was about forgiveness, and placing the needs of others before oneself. They believe that God is always in control and can bring good out of any situation. Love and compassion toward others is taught to Amish children along with the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic.
Shortly after the shootings, the school and outhouse, as well as the fences surrounding the school were torn down. The Amish felt that this had to be done in order to clear away the memories of that dreadful day.
I think that we can all learn some very valuable lessons concerning grace, compassion, forgiveness and true agape love from these gentle God worshipping people.
They not only read the scriptures, they do what the scriptures tell them is the right thing to do. They live their lives according to what they see as Godís commandments.
How many people today profess to believe in God, quote the words of God, but do not follow the basic principles set forth by Jesus. The main principle being ďlove one another.Ē
I donít know why it is that humankind finds choosing love to be such a difficult thing to do. It is that much easier to hang onto blame, guilt, fear, or hatred, than it is to consistently choose love?
Perhaps the reason the Amish choose love is because they have been taught from the time they are children to do just that. Children live what they are taught. And, the Amish way is based on love, compassion, forgiveness, and respect of God and of the Earth.
The Amish children do not play video games, watch television, or participate in competitive sports. They are taught that war is wrong and killing is wrong. They are taught to be valuable, honest, considerate and skilled members of a hard working community. They are taught to respect and honor the Earth that provides sustenance for all of us. They are taught that all members of their community are equal, and that what happens to one effects all. They are taught to respect their elders and yet have a voice in what happens in their community.
Maybe it is just me, but I donít see anything backward about any of that. In fact, I see a picture of a community that should be a role model for the rest of us out here, struggling to get by in our own little separate bubbles in a world based on have or have not.
Of all the belief systems out there, the Amish have my vote as the most spiritually developed of them all.
Love and LightÖ