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Monday, Aug. 29, 2016

Amish community shows its strength

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Like most of you reading today's column, I know little of the Amish religion or traditions and customs. I know they shun many of the modern "conveniences" and that they are extremely close-knit communities built around their religious beliefs. I have learned this week, however, that we could all learn a lesson from the Amish community following the tragic deaths of those young girls in a senseless school shooting.

Instead of seeking revenge or consulting lawyers to file suit, the Amish community in Georgetown, Pa., has instead asked for privacy and reached out to the family of the man who killed their children.

There's no talk in the Amish community about stronger gun laws. No calls for improved school security. No threats of lawsuits or animosity toward the wife and children of the killer.

That's just not the way of the Amish.

The Amish have not asked for financial help for the victims' families, though they have said they will accept them with great "humility." But in a move that few others would probably consider, the Amish community has said that any donated funds will also be used to assist the family of the man who killed their children. How many among us would react in that Christian manner?

The Amish will likely tear down the one-room school house where the murders occurred and build a new one in its place. But they will teach their children that vengeance is not appropriate and forgiveness is their mission and their purpose. And then, in their own way, they will move on with their lives.

I don't want to make a comparison with the Columbine killings a few years ago but members of that community called for officials to resign, filed ample lawsuits and are still trying to gain access to legal records in their attempt to pin guilt on someone other than the shooters.

The federal government will gather next week to discuss school violence and some action is likely that will make us feel safer - even if that action is more symbolic than effective.

And meanwhile, the Amish will mourn their losses in the strong belief that someday they will be united with those children who were killed this week. I'm not sure if most of us would have such strong beliefs and convictions that we could react this way. But I'm equally sure the world would be a better place if we only could.

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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen