Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Amish 9-11

A suicide attacker came out of nowhere, struck at the heart of the community and killed innocent people.

The Amish forgave him.

The parallel occurred to me this morning as I watched the morning news, but it had apparently already occurred to others. Much as I hate to lose cool points for being first, it gives depth to the point of view.

The voices howling for vengeance in 2001 shouted down anyone who wanted to respond more thoughtfully and compassionately. That urge for vengeance and self protection is costing us dearly today, in money and lives. If you want to put this on a cash basis rather than a spiritual one, it still looks like a bad bargain. And as a spiritual move, in a country where it seems everyone wants to talk, talk, talk about their faith, it looks even worse.

Pick at the metaphor and it falls apart. No shadowy cabal has sworn to destroy the Amish with a coordinated campaign of terror attacks. But comparing one single tragic incident to another, who reacted with deeper character? The Amish didn't gather in a tearful group and sing, "God Bless the Amish." They thought of the attacker as well as themselves.

The Amish have maintained a separate world based on their beliefs. Most of us couldn't hack their lifestyle. It's too disciplined and idealistic. But once in a while you have to take an example from a group that lives a rigorously refined life and see if a bit of it can be applied in your own.

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