Tuesday, October 03, 2006

"I guess there's just a meanness in this world...."

The rampage was the third fatal shooting at a United States school in the past week but seemed nearly incomprehensible to many residents of the Amish community, where crime rates are so low that many homeowners do not lock their doors and many towns have no police force.

The Amish community in Pennsylvania, which numbers about 55,000, lives an agrarian lifestyle, shunning technological advances like electricity and automobiles. And many say their insular lifestyle gives them a sense that they are protected from the violence of American society. But as residents gathered near the school, some wearing traditional garb and arriving in horse-drawn buggies, they said that sense of safety had been shattered.

“If someone snaps and wants to do something stupid, there’s no distance that’s going to stop them,” said Jake King, 56, an Amish lantern maker who knew several families whose children had been shot.

Mr. Roberts’s relatives said they, too, were stunned by his violent outburst and had had no indication that he had been planning any attack. His wife issued a written statement offering sympathy to the families of his victims and said she could not reconcile the day’s events with the man she had loved.

Her statement was read by a family friend, Dwight Lefever, and described Mr. Roberts as a devoted father who had always taken the time to play with his three children, ferry them to soccer practice and birthday parties, and had “never once refused to help change a diaper.”
Five dead, seven wounded, some in critical condition. All girls, ages 6 to 13. "One child died in the arms of a trooper as he rushed her out of the building to get medical help, Colonel Miller said."

“You think something like this will never happen, especially in a place like this,” said Mr. Bieler, who is Mennonite, and says the Amish community makes him and others feel welcome. “You pray that it won’t happen. But you just never know. You can’t know. And that’s hard to accept.”
O Christ of the road of the wounded
O Christ of the tears of the broken
You who took on even the violence of humankind
And suffered death for no reason other than
it was within our power to give it go you
In us and with us the needs of the world
Grant us our prayers of loving and hoping
Grant us our prayers of yearning and healing
Grant them your strength that overcomes despair
And your peace, because it is all
beyond our understanding.
Bind their broken hearts.
And make us, continually,
instruments of your peace.

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