While following the news reports covering the tragic school shootings in the Amish community located in Nickel Mines, Pa., I found myself awestruck. Not because of the senselessness of this event, but because of the Amish people’s response to this horrific intrusion into their peaceful and serene lives. Wow, I thought to myself, how remarkable these private people truly are.
Usually whenever we hear or read about injustices being done to someone, as happened to the Amish on Oct. 2, our responses all too often tend to be tainted with thoughts and feelings of revenge, our goal driven by a desire to bring about justice and the removal of our suffering. We need only reflect on how most of us have handled our own experiences when having been injured in some way.
Giving this all too common response one might be drawn to wonder, how effective has this practice been. Has it ever really lessened our pain? Or has it rather left us with an enhanced ability to remain bitter, better able to inflict pain onto others because of the time and effort that we have put into it?
So here we had a community of Amish people, whose lives were disrupted in the most horrendous way possible, being quoted as saying that they forgive the person who caused them these terrible losses. They, these people who live quite differently than we do, extended an invitation to the murderer’s widow to join them as they mourned and buried their children, and even went so far as to ask the public to not forget this family as donations came pouring in for the victims’ families. These Amish people it would seem have accepted a way of life, of thinking that allows them to hurt without wanting to hurt anyone else.
I could not help but wonder where we as individuals, as a country, would be if we also lived our lives according to this philosophy, this ideology. How much better and more peaceful might our own lives be as a result, those of us who have been unjustly hurt and made to feel pain. As I pondered on this seemly new way of responding to personal injury, I came to realize that what at first appeared to be a new concept was really a very old one being lived out. I remembered that this way of healing and moving away from pain, in a peaceful and hopeful manner, was first spoken about approximately 2,000 years ago by a man named Jesus.
This wonderful role model responded to his own hurt in the same manner that the Amish have. Imagine what our world might be like today if we lived our lives following Jesus’ advice and example, as the Amish people have apparently chosen to do. Sometimes different is good, in this case amazingly comforting. May we all become more Amish – like in our own lives and also truly experience peaceful healings that our neighbors from Nickel Mines, Pa., have recently shown us can occur.
Peter Violette is a social worker who lives in Van Buren.