I have been thinking a lot about the Amish school shooting this week. I know that area and I treasure the beauty of their lifestyle. It cuts me to the heart to hear about the killer and his plans. I want to block it all out and turn away. It’s impossible. As I feed my children, dress them and put them to bed I keep thinking about those families and their losses. I see lines of black buggies between green fields… not just simplicity this time, but funeral marches.
One thing that bothers me a lot is that we are getting used to these tragedies. The news is full of one story after another that brings us to national mourning. Refusing to live in fear is a full time job. I don’t watch much TV anymore, but I did still love to watch the national news. I rarely watch it anymore because it seems there is always a sensational story I don’t want my boys to see. There must be another way to be informed and to participate in a national life without having to defend my sensibilities against the way everything is presented as titillating horror dramas. No solutions or strategies, just the gory details, then cut to commercial. I want to be in conversations about how not to go on like this; how to change the violent course we are on; how to bring up children that won’t learn these ways. TV and the newspapers are clearly not the places for that type of information.
What I have gleaned from the news I have heard: The Amish community doesn't want to be in the media attention. They are being protected with a 2.5 mile no fly zone above their air space, where no media helicopters are allowed to fly during the days of funerals. The roads surrounding the community affected by this tragedy are closed to outsiders for these few days of mourning. They are dealing with their grief in their own way. The newspaper articles, and of course we have them, protection or no, are telling of forgiveness and community solidarity. I hope we can learn something from them, something about another way to respond to terror. Instead of increasing the security level they are offering forgiveness and kindness to the shooters’ family.
Amish families don’t carry health insurance and they don’t ask for monetary donations. But the Mennonite Central Committee is collecting funds for them anyway, and their bishop has said he will accept them for the victim’s families and the community. You can help ease their financial burdens by sending something here. It’s something to do, other than shake our collective heads. Maybe it is a vote for peace and forgiveness in the world.