To the Editor:
I have been following with interest the ongoing (and in my opinion often silly) local debate surrounding the Amish in our community.
Last evening I watched a documentary on the Oct. 2, 2006 Amish schoolhouse shooting in Nickel Mines, Penn., which I think every complainer should view or read up on the details of, before being so judgmental. For those who don’t remember, a gunman named Charles Carl Roberts held an elementary school hostage for hours before opening fire, killing five Amish schoolchildren and wounding five others, before turning the gun on himself.
Roberts’ mother was devastated upon learning what her son had done, ashamed, and felt as though she needed to move out of the community immediately. A delegation from the Amish community, including several parents of children who were murdered, showed up to Roberts’ home that evening, expressed their sympathy for her having lost her son, reminded her that she was part of their community, and pleaded with her not to leave.
“We must not think evil of this man,” one Amish father said. Another Amish father said, “He had a mother and a wife and a soul and now he’s standing before a just God.”
Roberts wrote an open letter to her Amish neighbors thanking them for their forgiveness, grace, and mercy. She wrote, “Your love for our family has helped to provide the healing we so desperately need. Gifts you’ve given have touched our hearts in a way no words can describe. Your compassion has reached beyond our family, beyond our community, and is changing our world, and for this we sincerely thank you.”
I think a lesson learned is that if an Amish community can exercise such humility, compassion, and forgiveness, the least their neighbors can do in Pennsylvania, New York, or elsewhere, is to do the same.
Different does not mean unequal or inferior. Indeed, in the case of the Amish, I would argue quite the opposite.