Friday, October 06, 2006


When I think of the Amish as a neonatologist, I think of the increased risk they run of having children with birth defects or things like dwarfism, because they are a small community and husbands and wives may be related, so their bad genes can get together and cause problems. I think of the fact that they probably don't have health insurance and that the whole community might chip in to pay a hospital bill.

Today, though, I think of the Amish in a different light. I think of the tremendous pain there is in the community that suffered the deaths of five schoolchildren at the hands of a madman. The thought of those small schoolgirls in their old fashioned long dresses and white bonnets lined up around the schoolroom, terrified by the gunman, is heartbreaking. Imagining their thoughts as they saw the gunman shoot the others and then turn the gun on them is too painful.

But I am struck by an Associated Press article I read about the Amish community's reaction to the slayings. At a time when many would be furious at the gunman and his family, the Amish are urging forgiveness. In fact, they are reaching out to the family of the murderer. One Amish neighbor comforted the gunman's family just hours after the shooting.

What a tremendous example they are for the world. Can you imagine a Palestinian offering forgiveness to a Jew after an Israeli army attack killed a Palestinian child? Or a Jew offering forgiveness to a Palestinian after the Palestinian's family member killed several Israelis in a suicide bombing? Or a Shiite forgiving a Sunni? A Hutu forgiving a Tutsi? A Northern Ireland Catholic forgiving a Protestant? Can you imagine how improved the situation in world hotspots like the Middle East would be if instead of a constant cycle of retribution, someone just offered forgiveness for a change?

I have never meant for this blog to be about religion, but I don't think forgiveness like this has to necessarily be a religious thing. It can simply be a progressive way to help to end conflicts. I'm not so naive to think that everyone will buy into it or that it will solve all the world's problems, but even if we can get people to try it a little bit it would be a good thing.

We sometimes think of the Amish as being backwards and old fashioned. We might laugh at them for not using electricity or automobiles; but in this aspect they are way ahead of the rest of the world.


Anonymous sarah Furlough said...

Neonatal Doc:
You are right in so many ways. What good does it do to hold onto hate and anger? We should all take the example being set by the Amish, and forgive. If we could all learn to forgive, maybe we could enjoy life a little more. After all, life is way to short to hold hate in your heart!

3:07 PM  
Anonymous Krystal said...


4:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too am amazed at the courage of the Amish. To forgive the shooter seems like the world should learn from them.
Check out the book by Immaculée Ilibagiza, Tutsi that witnessed the massacre of her whole family and village.

Gives me hope.

6:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could not agree more.

Yet it is so sad that the web is so full of hate.

9:56 PM  
Blogger The Sanity Inspector said...

As for Jews forgiving Palestinians, you might find this article, of a scene in an Israeli hospital, illuminating. "It Gets Hard When They Cheer"

1:38 AM  
Anonymous Olga said...

Amen, amen.

5:13 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Of course, I totally agree with you, however, I don't feel like that kind of forgiveness usually resides outside of faith and religion. Mainly because, some religions are BASED on forgiveness, and those who live under that tenet can reciprocate.

Unfortunately, without experiencing it, I'm doubtful that many could extend it. Turning the other cheek, as the Amish have done, is not so easily embraced. Yet, within some spheres of the religious world, it is far more common a practice. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad, as we see in the Amish's example, to embrace a faith that instills that in the world. It's not so bad for it to be about religion....

If it produces human relations like that.

5:16 PM  
Blogger Fat Doctor said...

Very insightful post.

3:44 AM  
Blogger WendyLou said...

Your works expressed so much better than what I tried to post on my blog.

8:29 AM  
Anonymous maribeth, cnm said...

Hi Neo Doc. Finally time to peruse archives and I'm glad I found this. Do you read late posts? I'm not quite sure. Thank you for your post. I am part of this community, I live a mile from the shooting and have delivered children for several of the families. I told the mothers: your sacrifice, your daughters' deaths, were not in vain. This awfulness has spread a message of LOVE (regardless of religion) to, what... a hundred million people? Who among us is so important on this earth? It's so horrible, destruction of the very most innocent among us, and yet even from this good can come. Wow.

As a brief side note, Amish schoolgirls don't wear head coverings. They start around the age of menarche. Interestingly, this is much later than for non-Amish, usually 14-16.

Continue your prayers, as the survivors have a lot to go through still.

9:14 PM  

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