Friday, October 06, 2006

Where Are The Amish Iraqis?

Courtesy of

I was just reading a story about the recent Amish tragedy in Bart, Pennsylvania, and what struck me about the article was the sense of forgiveness inherent among the Amish.

After such a disturbing and senseless, soul-shattering act of violence, the Amish were not lashing out at the gunmen or the gunmen's family. Though most would. They were not seeking revenge for their loss. Where many have. A great tragedy had just befallen them, which no words can convey the magnitude of, in such a small community, events and people interwoven, interlocked, where everyone knew each others names, the memories of those girls, a hold on them forever.

And they forgave.

"On the way to the cemetery, the procession passed the home of Charles Carl Roberts IV, the 32-year-old milk-truck driver who took 10 young girls hostage, tied them up and shot them..." The Amish turned the other cheek, "urging forgiveness of the killer and quietly accepting what comes their way as God's will."

They hoped the wife of the killer of their daughters would attend the funeral:

"Rita Rhoads, a Mennonite midwife who delivered" two of the shooting victims, 13-year-old Marian Fisher and 7-year-old Naomi Rose Ebersol, said: "They really want the world to know that they have forgiven the shooter... They definitely are very upset for him and his family. They view him as a community member just like the children." Rhoads added that the families of the victims hoped that Roberts’ wife, Marie, would join them at one of the funerals. "His widow is a very strong Christian, and I’ve heard that her faith is remaining strong as well..."

I read this, and I thought to myself, the Amish reaction is very similar to how the Christians, Mandaeans, and other religious minorities in Iraq react to the misfortunes placed upon them. How many of the Christians and Mandaeans have vowed vengenance against their Muslim neighbors for attacks on their Churches, kidnappings of their Priests, raping of their women, and killings of their family members?

Maybe, they have muttered angrily under their breaths, but generally the Christians and Mandaeans have not sworn vengenance against their Muslim friends and have not attacked their persecutors' Mosques. Instead, they have been pleading for better protection, praying for peace among all, and leaving Iraq in great numbers -- more than 600,000 -- seeking a better and safer life elsewhere.

Now, how many Sunni and Shia Muslims have done the same thing? Turned the other cheek? Forgiven?

Yes, some, have forgiven.

Take Sam from Hammorabi for instance. He lost something like 14 members of his family and relatives to the Baathists before the war, but I doubt Sam is out planting IEDs or running around in a Shia Death Squad, kidnapping and torturing Sunnis to death. We may not like the blinders he has on regarding Iran, Israel, and lately the U.S., but he seems to have come to terms with the past and is at peace.

But with the amount of sectarian violence between the Sunni and Shia, not enough other Iraqis have. Can they still remember the past and forgive the transgressions?

The Amish lesson of forgiveness is one all Iraqis could use.

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