I wrote the following blog entry in 2006, about the shooting at an Amish school where Charles Carl Roberts IV shot ten girls, killing five of them and turned the gun on himself. I'll be continuing after the following:
A host on KFI last night was asking people to call in to tell what was their favorite news story of 2006. The false confession to the JonBenet Ramsey murder, Brittney Spears goes from happily married mom to drunken party girl, Saddam to be executed, Dick Cheney shoots his friend were all mentioned.
While I must say that I greatly enjoy the train wrecks that Brittney and Anna Nicole are, I think my favorite news story was about the reaction of the Amish community after the tragic school shooting in their community.
Among bombings in Iraq and Charlie Sheen beating up his wife and volcanoes erupting and the continued aftermath of Hurricane Katrinia here was this story. About people who went through their lives with such a purity of faith and sense of connection to their fellow man.
I had the hardest time wrapping my brain around it. What do you mean they forgave him? Where's the wailing and crying and gnashing of teeth? Where's the grieving family members on the morning talk shows? Where's the book deal?
After a crazy man came in and killed their children and himself. They forgave him. They attended his funeral. They mourned the fact that he was dead. That a life had left this planet was a sad event, no matter who the person was or what they had done.
They invited his wife and children to attend the burials of the girls their husband and father shot. They started a fund for his children. They recognized the shooter and his family as fellow human beings. Not demons or monsters, just other people who live under the same sky.
No blame was tossed around. No demands for gun control or political reform. No lawsuits were filed. There were no prepared statements to the press. No dressing it up in black net veils and big sunglasses for the benefit of the television cameras. Just plain mourning and then plain forgiveness.
The quiet, solemn, unconditional faith of these people was so much louder than all the other jazzy shouting that was going on.
It amazed me.
After the awful event, I started to wonder how a person became Amish. Did you have to be born into the community or could you join? It turns out that any person can be Amish. One moves to an Amish community for a period of time, sometimes for years, to find out if they are suitable for the lifestyle and if the community agrees that they are a good fit. A strong Christian faith is the basis for being Amish.
There are Amish communities in 28 states, including one in Stephenville Texas, about 170 miles north of Austin.
I will admit that there are days when I've been dealing with cars breaking down, no cell phone coverage, making the children leave the computer/Xbox/tv and dealing with day to day craziness I will pause and think about how different it would be have clear roles, chores and a self sustaining household. There would be cows to milk, crops to tend, bread to make, clothes to sew, children to send to school and then shoo out to play, quilting bees and barn raisings. I understand the Amish who live in Texas keep bees and craft buggies for English (a term for non-Amish) people. However, if you request a garish color, say Texas orange and white, you will be expected to pay up front. The Amish don't root for the Longhorns apparently.
I think about being so tired at the end of the day from work I just drop off to sleep without a struggle. Really, I think about feeling safe and unafraid. I know there would be drama and issues and infighting, just like there are in any community. But I still think how it might be fullfilling in a plain way.
I wonder if they'd let me wear lipstick.
Amanda's beauty tip of the day: Here's an old one, if you have sun freckles you can bleach them with buttermilk.