Thursday, October 05, 2006

Reflections on Nickel Mines


As the week progresses, I continue to reflect on the Nickel Mines tragedy and try to know what to think. I'm not making a whole lot of progress on that. I know what I don't think, though, and perhaps that is a starting place.
. . . .
I don't think Sam Stoltzfus, an Amish woodworker who lives near Nickel Mines, is right when he says, "We think it was God's plan." I'm certain that God did not wake up one morning feeling bored and decided to create some excitement in the form of inflicting a man with a quick-moving mental illness that would result in the death of children. I do think it is possible that God, through God's grace, can enable us to somehow find meaning from what happened.
. . . .
I don't think that Charles C. Roberts (who, rather ironically has the same name as my high school shorthand teacher and was as moral and upright a person as one would want to meet) was a bad person. I don't think we can blame him for what happened; rather, he was a victim of a dreadful disease of his mind. We can detest the illness and what it made happen; we must pity and strive to forgive, rather than hate, the man who had the illness. We must extend to his widow and children the compassion we have for the Miller, Fisher, Ebersol, and Stoltzfus families.
. . . .
I don't agree with the columnists who are insisting that "tough gun laws can make a difference." As long as there are guns, people will find ways to misuse them.
. . . .
I don't agree with the parents who are calling the school where I'm employed, demanding that we establish a multilevel security system, complete with card-lock entry, so that a crazy gunman won't burst into our buildings. The moms who are asking for this are the first ones who would be infuriated if they came to school one day without their cards and were unable to get into the building. No one would want to deny our little ones access to the playground because out in the open they could be targets for the deranged. Nor would they want to stop the children from their weekly Wednesday walk through the graveyard to the Meetinghouse to participate in Meeting for Worship.
. . . .
I don't think, either, that we need dwell on the innocence of the Nickel Mines victims. We are all of us equally innocent, equally guilty; that is part of the nature of being human. We all are capable of being our best selves; we all have the potential to act on an evil impulse.
. . . .
And finally, I don't believe we can protect our children or ourselves from randomness. Bad things are going to happen, despite our best efforts. I don't think we want to live lives of fear that randomness will strike. Luke says, "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." If our treasure/our focus is self-protection, we miss opportunities to love and serve God and our neighbors.

3 comments:

antihero said...

Though on the other side of this small room called the world (wide web), I was shocked.
I now am more shocked to know that we cannot easily accuse individuals. I am convinced that it is an inevitable fruit of a seed that we've sowed.

Randomness?
We are our own gods with no place of randomness in our creed. People try to believe that they can be gods; avoiding randomness and creating their future with steady steps into what they perceive as a clear blue-skyed tomorrow.

I want to be innocent; that's why everyone is looking for the guilty one.
I choose not to ask "how", but is it possible that we protect ourselves from the unknown?
The unknown being the unknown guilty party.

Very thoughtful :)
its my first visit, i know it won't be the last.

frank said...

I think sometimes we try to make sense of chaos. I don't think it's part of God's plan to hurt us.
When a concentration inmate was forced to watch a hanging, he cried 'where is God', the answer from a fellow inmate was 'he's hanging on the gallows'. beyond that I'm puzzled too.

Laurie said...

{{If our treasure/our focus is self-protection, we miss opportunities to love and serve God and our neighbors.}}

Well said. I've heard it said that in each of us there is a black dog and a white dog. The one that thrives is the one we feed.

We can't make sense of a tragedy like this. We can only feed the white dog and do what we can in our own little spheres to keeep it from happening again.