The news is full of the story.... A 32 year old man with a 20 year old grudge walks into an Amish one-room schoolhouse with guns and sends the boys and adults away. He binds the feet of the little girls, faces them toward the chalkboard, and executes them. Then he kills himself.
There are more details, but they don't matter. He had three small children himself, two of them girls. What the hell happened here?
I've lived here all my life. The Amish are part of my home and part of my heritage. These children weren't even born when whatever happened to him happened. They had no telephone, no electricity, and no security. It was like shooting fish in a barrel... or clubbing baby seals. They were babies, defenseless and innocent.
Just last week we were driving down in the country and passed a schoolhouse where the children were outside playing a game of baseball during recess or maybe lunch. My sister remarked about the tiny little girl holding the bat. We laughed and both silently thought about childhood and the pure pleasure of being a kid, playing a game, being with your friends. All of the schools look pretty much alike, and most of them are now surrounded by chain-link fences to keep out the tourists. They are posted "no trespassing" because of the tourists. I'm sure that they never, ever thought such a thing as this could happen. Nobody in this town ever thought such a thing could happen.
This has shaken our community - plain and fancy alike. Aside from a few issues with road usage, the Amish just exist peacefully alongside of the rest of us. They don't judge, they don't witness, and they don't care what anyone else does. They just want to lead their lives as they see fit. To have something like this happen feels very personal. It is heartbreaking.
And the thing that I keep thinking today is that the Amish will already have forgiven this man by the time I finish writing about it. They believe that only God has the right to judge or take revenge, and that they must find a way to love and forgive. They will, too.