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Maybe the Amish have the right idea about forgiveness and understanding

October 21, 2006|by Charlotte Baker, Sharpsburg

To the editor:

I am drawn to imagine what might have happened five years ago if we as a nation had responded in the same way as has the Lancaster, Pa., Amish community to their tragic, terrible loss.

What could be a more heinous crime than terrifying and slaughtering innocent little girls? But what did their families and community do? They came together to grieve and to pray - and they prayed for the family of that deranged man. They offered their forgiveness; they came to his funeral and have decided to share the contributions of financial support with his family.

I wonder where we would be now if we had done the same after Sept. 11, 2001.

What if our grief had motivated us to try to better understand the motivations of those desperate men to do such a terrible thing and then to reach out to their families and communities in compassion?

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What if we had worked with all those world leaders who poured out their genuine sympathy and support to us (including some of our former "enemies") to enter into a new dialogue and constructive action to better address the suffering of those who become "terrorists?" What if we had chosen the way of love and forgiveness instead of revenge?

Before you dismiss this imagining as foolish, think about where we are now:

· We have lost the support of most nations of the world; many former "friends" now see us as very dangerous; we have fallen from the moral higher ground we had earlier.

· We are losing the terrible battle in Iraq, with thousands of Americans dead and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead and wounded (including countless innocent little girls).

· We are motivating many more desperate people to become "terrorists."

· We are losing what we thought we had gained militarily in Afghanistan.

· And it looks as if no one knows what to do. We are in a terrible mess and it just gets worse each day.

So what would have happened if we had responded as the Amish community has ? I pray our hearts may be open enough to imagine.

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