In which a man from Bangladesh asks me about the Amish.

People came from many different countries to attend this wedding in Chennai. At the Pradhanam, the dinner given by the bride’s family the night before the ceremony, I sat next to a heart surgeon from India who had just helped start a hospital in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

He told me all about the work he was doing in Dhaka and what the conditions were like there—then, to my surprise, he wanted to ask me about the Amish people. He’d read news stories about the shootings of the five Amish schoolgirls.

He’d been stunned, he told me, by the way that the victims’ families had forgiven the killer. He found this so remarkable that he’d been using the Internet to find out as much as he could about the Amish and their beliefs.

“How could they show this forgiveness?” he asked. “I would never be able to forgive. But the murderer’s wife was invited to the funerals of the girls. This is a very great thing to do.”

I’d been thinking a lot about this story, myself. And to think that news of this generosity of spirit had traveled all around the world, to capture the imagination of a man in Bangladesh – that struck me as truly extraordinary.

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  • It is extraordinary. But consider as well that they bulldozed the school within ten days of the event. The complexity of our lives has caused us to deify the simple life (and the people who lead it) beyond reason.
    Do you really want to “move on and forget” having forgiven 10 days after someone kills your daughter? Are they so anxious to wash their hands of any disruption of their largely scripted lives?
    Does the lives of their daughters really mean so little to them? I call shenanigans.
    I don’t know. This drops them in my estimation.

  • I have mixed feelings about the Amish. I admire their morality, but what if the rest of the world were like that? Who would build the universities and hospitals?

  • great post. i also love how now the Amish of that community are totally befuddled and overwhelmed by the millions that poured in in donations after the tragedy. these little things are like diamonds of humanity. small, but so valuable.

  • Pat Nease

    I like your happiness columns, but I don’t understand how you could sincerely find it extraordinary that this kind of forgiveness could resonate around the world. Gandhi?

  • I hadn’t heard that they bulldozed the school. Interesting. But then how could you ask children to go back in there, after what had happened?
    I suppose the fact that this story had resonated all the way to Bangladesh particularly struck me because it shows the power of the Internet to make relatively small events widely known, in a flash, and also, it shows the power of the decisions made by ordinary people, as opposed to those deliberately acting on the world stage.

  • Funchilde, I suspect the Amish were befuddled by the generosity of the outside world because they are so accustomed to taking care of themselves within their own community. They didn’t expect aid from anyone outside their community, I’m sure.
    Mad William, I’m sure their daughters meant a lot to them, but their culture is different than ours. They are peaceful and forgiving people who trust and believe in God’s grand plan. We may not understand it, but it’s not ours to understand. ~Monica