I was deeply disturbed by the killing of the Amish schoolchildren in nearby Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Children bring out the best part of my personality and the warmest emotions in my heart. From personal experience, I am completely convinced that the Amish live the closest to God of any group of people in America.
In my teens, I worked for awhile picking up cans of milk from Amish farms in Lancaster County and taking them to the dairy for processing. Later in my late twenties, I lunched several days a week at auctions and flea markets with a teenage Amish girl from Lancaster County named Ruth Ann Fisher. We talked mostly about family and faith.
Those talks stirred my spirit so much that I struggled to learn to read the Bible in German and seriously considered joining the Brethren. Eventually, I realized that my experiences were so different that I would never successfully fit in with the Amish lifestyle. I would have been a miserable failure as a farmer and did not know how to really think like one of the Plain Folk. I lived in a world of electric power, higher education and ambition. My German was pathetic.
What I gained from those talks, nearly half of a lifetime ago, is still with me. My faith as a Christian was deeply influenced. There are many pathways to God but few as pure as the Amish. I cannot imagine anyone hating the Amish much less the Amish children.
In many ways, the Amish are like the Anti-Christian Right of the Christian faith although I doubt they had every considered the situation. The Amish are basically non-political. They are oriented toward peace, living plainly, living communally in many ways and care nothing for material wealth or power. They are into forgiveness instead of vengeance. Aggression and violence are alien concepts. Hard work is regarded as a virtue in itself instead of as an avenue to wealth and power.
The so-called Christian Right should look closely at the Amish lifestyle for lessons in what is wrong with their approach to faith and politics. The Amish are focused on becoming more Godly in their person and among their community. They do not seek to impose their values on others by law or force. They do not judge others but instead try to set examples in the way they live their lives.
Hate has no power or legitimacy in the Amish community or Church. They follow the example of Jesus Christ by forgiving and loving the worst of sinners. Only by understanding this fact can the non-Amish understand their reaction to the schoolhouse killings.
Personally, I find far more religious power in the Amish approach than in the approach of the so-called Christian Right. We can all learn from the Plain Folk. I hope our nation will be influenced a little more by the Amish even if we cannot fully follow in the footsteps of these Godly people.
Written by Stephen Crockett (co-host of Democratic Talk Radio http://www.DemocraticTalkRadio.com ).