Back in October the world was shocked when a lone gunman entered an Amish schoolhouse in rural Pennsylvania, sent the boys out of the school and then proceed to open fire on the girls. As police moved in he killed himself. A lone gunman killing other people before killing himself wasn’t the shock, that he would target the most vulnerable of a group of people like the Amish was the shock. The Amish are a peace loving people.
I wrote at that time about my being in awe of these people and the amazing Christian witness they demonstrated. This was a community who lost 4 of their young girls, others were wounded and the world’s media had trained their attention on these quiet, peaceful people. You’d expect that would have unnerved anyone and that they would have reacted in anger and outrage towards the invasion of the privacy and most certainly at the shooter and his family.
Instead, they remained stoic under the media gaze and then reached out the family of the shooter with compassion towards their loss. An example of true Christian witness. After they had buried their dead they quietly arranged to have the one room school demolished, the site turned into a meadow which as grief heals and memories fade will become once again a place of peace. School was set up in a garage within the community.
Two weeks ago this community started to rebuild their school not far from where the other school had been torn down. This school will be a one room school like the last one but will have modern style locks in order to get in. The Amish generally shun modern technologies. The decision to employ modern methods of access control can not have come easily. It’s apparent the tragedy they have suffered has changed them in ways they may yet to know.
Its too bad that had to happen. I’ve always admired the ability of the Amish to hold to their life of simplicity and live and let live philosophy in a dog eat dog world. But, change is inevitable, good and bad.