Tears in Paradise

Amish girls

Paradise, Pennsylvania, saw the nation’s third deadly school shooting in a week and the second that targeted female students. A 32-year-old man who was “acting out to achieve revenge for something that happened 20 years ago,” let the boys leave, tied the girls, all between 6 and 13 years old, and then shot them in the head at close range. He killed three girls, critically wounded 3, and injured 5 more before killing himself.

An adult, father of three, executing children tied to the blackboard in a small rural school? I really need to blame somebody, because I cannot make sense of this. If I only knew who.

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3 thoughts on “Tears in Paradise

  1. This incident makes me so angry. You hear these stories about men who kill a bunch of people and then kill themselves. Why can’t these guys kill themselves first? This is a paraphrase of a joke by comic Betsy Salkind. I think this particular incident really gets to me because the Amish try so hard to stay away from our sad culture.

  2. I think part of the problem is blame. When I heard this story my first feeling was anger. But as I heard the Amish speek and saw their actions … it changed my perspective. I saw forgiveness and a real attempt to grapple with horror in a way that brought the real message of Christ to the fore. They did not express anger or its cousins rage and hate. They looked to reach out to heal and forgive.

    To give a twist on the wise words of Yoda – blame is the path to the dark side. Blame leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering.

    I know quoting a muppet (a CGI muppet even) is not the most profound thing to do but there is an essential truth there. Christ taught to forgive and to comfort. If the poor soul that did this had been able to get help for his wounded soul or medication for the physiological disruption of his mind then maybe he would not have slipped into the dark side.

    If you will pardon a longish quotation from the writings of my faith:

    “Wherefore, O my loving friends! Consort with all the peoples, kindreds and religions of the world with the utmost truthfulness, uprightness, faithfulness, kindliness, good-will and friendliness, … that ignorance, enmity, hate and rancor may vanish from the world and the darkness of estrangement amidst the peoples and kindreds of the world may give way to the Light of Unity. Should other peoples and nations be unfaithful to you show your fidelity unto them, should they be unjust toward you show justice towards them, should they keep aloof from you attract them to yourselves, should they show their enmity be friendly towards them, should they poison your lives, sweeten their souls, should they inflict a wound upon you, be a salve to their sores. Such are the attributes of the sincere! Such are the attributes of the truthful.”

    — Abdu’l-Baha

  3. I was raised catholic so revenge is not my thing, at least in theory. Public display of revenge and angry feelings, as you see in the USA all the times, are not as well received and embraced as here.

    But witnessing how the Amish reacted to this tragedy–with immediate and active forgiveness, as revenge and anger were not even an option–was almost shocking.

    See, when I see an angry person I feel a distance, almost as they don’t need me because they are angry. But I when I see a compassionate and forgiving person I’m drawn to them like a magnet. They seem vulnerable and in need of protection.

    Of course it’s the opposite. People who forgive are already getting over the tragedy because they have trained themselves to let go of the perverse connection with the person who did them harm. Hate and revenge are a powerful powerful connnection.
    People who are angry and revengful can never get over the tragedy. They need to wait for the perpetrator to be discovered and captured, which sometimes happens and sometimes doesn’t happen. They have to go through the trial. They have to wait for the verdit, which sometimes is what they hope and sometimes is not. Even when the perpetrator is executed, after watching him die, they cannot free themselves from the anger. And then they realize that not even the death of the murderer brought them the relief they were expecting.

    One time the Dalai Lama was asked about the Chinese government and he described how it hurt his people and destroyed his country. Then the interviewer asked: “Do you hate them?” He hesitated just for a moment, then answered: “Almost not.”
    To get angry and to hate is human, to forgive is divine.

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