How forgiveness transcended tragedy
On Oct. 2, 2006, a gunman named Charles Roberts took hostages of 10 girls aged between six and 13 at a one-room schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania.
Roberts eventually shot eight, killing five, before committing suicide.
The mass school shooting gained worldwide attention as the victims were Amish _ traditional Christians known for their simple living, plain dress, and avoidance of modern equipment like TV, mobile phones, and automobiles.
Topping other things off, they are famous for their pacificism as they are next to none as far as forgiveness is concerned.
On the very day of the tragedy, some families of the murdered Amish girls visited the family of Roberts to forgive the perpetrator and console his wife and children.
They visited the funeral of Roberts and later invited his family members to their houses for dinner.
The book “Amish Grace” asks how they could do that.
Some suspect that Amish people “deal with their grief like soulless dolls by simply stifling emotional pain.” Others insist that Amish people quickly give up as they are fatalistic.
But “Amish Grace” shows how Amish people suffer from the loss of their family members. They are very close to each other because, unlike others, they spend a lot of time together without the distraction of TVs and mobile phones.
Sadness overshadows anger in a real way
The emotions of deep hurt and sadness would be much harder to bear for the members of closely-knit Amish communities than others. Parents of the victims wore black for an entire year.
“Tears continued for months afterward. Mary, who was not closely related to any of the victims, admitted that she continued to cry every day for several months after the shooting,” the book reads.
But they try very hard to swallow them and opt to forgive instead of getting angry because they believe that’s what Jesus did and what they are supposed to do.
Such inhuman forgiveness would be a very hard thing to do even for very religious people.
And we need to remember Marian, one of two 13-year-old girls among the schoolhouse, on Oct. 2, 2006. After realizing Roberts planned to kill them, she said, “Shoot me first,” hoping to save the others and fulfilling her duty to watch over the little ones in her care.
Eventually she was included in the five victims, but she helped half of the 10 girls meet their parents.