What if?

It’s Sunday, October 8, and I’ve been reading letters and opinions in today’s paper.  One side is right.  Everyone else is wrong.  I’ve also been thinking all day about the tragedy last week at the Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania…

If the Amish had responded as America did after September 11, they would have immediately burned down the killer’s home.  If his wife and children were still inside, too bad — that’s what happens.  “Collateral damage” in bloodless, abstract war terms.  Then they would have marched into town and torched the hardware store where he bought supplies for his deadly rampage.  And the diner where he occasionally ate breakfast.  If nearby buildings caught fire, too bad — they weren’t intentionally targeted and besides, they shouldn’t have been so close…

Before the smoke cleared, they would have looked around to see what else they could destroy in their quest to make Lancaster County safe for the Amish.  The killer worked for a dairy, so they would butcher the cows and poison the pastures.  Wasn’t the right dairy?  Too bad, but according to anonymous experts (in undisclosed locations), all dairy farmers hate the Amish way of life…

How did the Amish really react last week?  A Presbyterian pastor visited the home of one of the Amish girls who was killed.  He found the mother preparing her daughter’s body for burial.  In the background, the girl’s grandfather was reminding the rest of the family about the importance of forgiving her killer.  It was a scene that moved the pastor to tears.

The Amish have initiated relief efforts to help the families of the girls who were killed and wounded, and to help the family of the man who killed them.  Thursday, the long funeral procession of black horse-drawn buggies passed in front of that man’s house.  And the house is still there…

What would the world think of us now, five years after September 11, if America had been more like the Amish?

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