Commentary: A Compassionate Example

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, October 13, 2006

These days, victims of heinous crimes can be seen every day lashing out against the criminals who wronged them, on television, on radio, on the pages of the newspaper I work for. That routine reality of modern life makes the behavior of the Amish all that more remarkable.

It’s hard to conceive of a worse crime than the one committed against the people who belong to this religious sect. An armed man invaded their one-room school house. He let the boys and four adult women go but tied up the girls. Authorities say he was planning to sexually assault them. Instead, when police arrived he shot all 10 hostages and then killed himself. Five little girls have died. The rest are clinging to life.

Remarkably, the families of the victims have not reacted with anger. In the depths of their sorrow the Amish expressed compassion for the 32 year old milkman who killed their children, and genuine concern for his family.

Their concern goes beyond mere words. As money to help with medical expenses poured into their community, the Amish set up a fund for the killer’s widow and three children.

If only the combatants in Iraq, Afghanistan, Darfur – or, the gangsters on the streets of America would follow the lead of the Amish, our world might be blessedly at peace.


Ginger Rutland writes for the Sacramento Bee Opinion pages.