In face of a tragedy...

Discussion in 'Politics' started by james_bond_3rd, Oct 6, 2006.

    Victims' families showed the best part of humanity
    By Steven Gimbel

    The Amish school shootings in Lancaster County are a tragedy beyond words. As a teacher of ethics, I often find it difficult to face students' questions about horrific acts of this sort. In the face of such evil, there is nothing to say but to express dismay and sadness. But in the midst of such horror, sometimes it is possible to see a glimmer of the best part of humanity.

    Immediately after the shootings, mental-health professionals were dispatched to help answer questions and tend to the needs of families and members of the close-knit community.

    In an interview with National Public Radio, one member of the team reported that the community expressed concern not only for the victims and their immediate families, but also for the family of the perpetrator: "They were talking about how they could support and help his family. They were planning on sending a contingent over, perhaps bringing them some food. They had already gotten to the point of forgiveness."

    In a time of shock and grief, these people were still able to keep themselves open to the pain of others, especially those who were related to the source of their own pain.

    It is too easy when tragedy has befallen us to lapse into black-and-white thinking and condemn by association anything remotely connected with those who are guilty. Our long-nurtured tribal mentality displays its ugliness across the globe. It is all too easy when we are angry, hurt or grieving to dehumanize others in an attempt to reconcile our baser craving for retribution with our more noble desire for justice.

    But with the Amish families, we saw both terrible suffering and an authentic understanding that there were others in pain as well.

    Doing the right thing requires rational consideration. In the case of hard ethical dilemmas, this thought can become very intricate and subtle. But the initial ethical impulse that forms the true basis for morality is empathy, the ability to understand and feel the anguish of someone else, the deep sense that other people are, in fact, people.

    At a time when it would have been understandable, even forgivable, for those closest to the atrocious act to ignore the agony of the perpetrator's family, to lash out in an attempt to claim the space needed for them to work through their own grief, they instead opened their hearts to these fellow sufferers. This was truly an act of great ethical maturity.

    I hope that we can learn a lesson from them. In a world where we began a "war on terrorism" because we became victims of the hatred of others, we need to learn to seek justice like these Amish families, who were able to fully feel their own anger, grief and despair while allowing others to retain their humanity.

    I solemnly hope that their wisdom and maturity in this time of great distress and sorrow may rub off on the rest of us.
  2. Hey, that's beautiful. True Islamic values on displ.. on...
  3. Sam123

    Sam123 Guest

    Notice how Gimbel leaves out the word: “Christianity.” That’s too bad because he could talk about how Christianity solves this problem of dehumanizing people because it separates the sin and the sinner. Typical biased liberal professor: he doesn’t mention Christianity at all when he talks about the Amish, and then makes a quip at Bush about his war on terror as if it’s a policy of dehumanizing Muslims.

    Yes, you can extend the Christian interpretation of forgiveness by hating the sin and loving the sinner to Islamic murderers, since Christian forgiveness lends itself to non-Christians. However, in practical terms, forgiving people following dangerous movements and ideologies, especially when they are tethered to another religion that does not lend out this type of forgiveness, Christians are faced with a practical dilemma.

    Hating the sin and loving the sinner demands forgiveness of the human being but war against the sin. Does it not? We have three things: the human being, the act of murder, and the belief system that motivates the human to kill. We forgive the human, despise the act of murder, but what about the motive for murder? Isn’t that part of the sin as well?

    The terrorist motive is linked to a popular interpretation of a major religion, rather than some form of random individual rage and psychosis, as in the Amish example. The Amish extend themselves to the killer’s parents, but does that mean they also accept the psychosis of their son? Likewise, if we forgive Mohommad Atta and extend ourselves to his family and friends, and try to understand the Muslim’s point of view, and “understand Islam,” and all the other things we are constantly scolded to do, does it mean we must ignore/accept violent Jihad? I never heard of “love the sinner and accept their sins.”

    Perhaps a good Buddhist up in the mountains avoids both the sinner and the sin. But Christians are left with the burden to fight violent Jihad if they are going to forgive the Jihadists and survive at the same time. And this brings us to the real world dilemma: sometimes you commit sin to fight sin. In other words, kill the Jihadists and defeat the indoctrinators of Islamofacist hatred.

    Perhaps we have a spectrum of Christian interpretations of “hating sin” and “fighting sin” just as Islam has it’s spectrum of Jihad. Perhaps fighting sin simply means fight sin within ourselves, rather than going out and beating it out of others. However, I never heard of accepting a killer’s motive as a prerequisite for loving and forgiving the killer. Understanding the motive is necessary, of course. But in today’s world of people taught how to not make any judgements, people mistakenly believe that in order to love, understand, and forgive people, you must accept the way they see the world, even if it threatens your way of life.
  4. Was the Crusade linked to a popular interpretation of a major religion?

    Every religion can be interpreted in different ways. The problem is not with the religion, but with the people doing the interpretation.
  5. The 'interpretation' that says war can be (even ought to be) waged to save one's people or one's civilization?

    Calling it "the Crusade" shows how much you know about it. I never cease to be amazed at how free liberals feel to yap about matters they know precious little of.
  6. Don't know what your point is. Are you picking on me for not using the plural form "the Crusades?" Or are you hinting at something else that I cannot decipher?

    Do you believe that there is an "interpretation" of the Bible that tells you what war ought to be?
  7. cant understand those people, livin' 200yrs in the past. isolated and with ridiculous rules. what u expect, someone bound to go nutz in that environment.
  8. traderob


    The muslims or Amish?

  9. well...both.
  10. That's a bit unfair. The crazy guy was not an amish.
    #10     Oct 7, 2006