Living Beyond Rivalry (series)

Sightings of ‘beyond rivalry’ moments in real life: averting and avoiding envy, jealousy, revenge, retribution, tit for tat, kneejerk reaction, scapegoating, holy wars, striving against, and other forms of violence.

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This event occurred before I started recording instances of pacific (non-violent) mimesis in real life, but it was brought to my attention again because of a study done about “contagious” goodness by the University of British Columbia.

In Oct. 2006, a local man, Charles Roberts, burst into a one-room schoolhouse in the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., sent the men and boys out, and tied up and shot 10 young girls (ages 6-13), killing five of them. He then killed himself.

Hours after the shooting, an Amish neighbor comforted the Roberts family and “extended forgiveness to them. Among Roberts’ survivors are his wife and three children.’I hope they stay around here and they’ll have a lot of friends and a lot of support,’ Amish artist and woodworker Daniel Esh, whose three grandnephews were inside the school” when Roberts attacked.

The family of one of the girls who was killed invited Roberts’ widow, Marie, to her funeral. And the Amish mourners at Roberts’ funeral (said to be about 30 in one report)  actually outnumbered the non-Amish who attended.

The Amish also set up a charitable fund for Roberts’ family.

One article notes that the Amish “refused to talk badly about [Roberts] or degrade his character. They reached out to his family as fellow victims; they wanted to extend compassion to his family.”

Gertrude Huntington, a Michigan researcher who writes about children in Amish society, said it well:

“‘The hurt is very great. But they don’t balance the hurt with hate.'”

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(The study done at UBC looked at whether”people exposed to examples of “moral elevation” are more likely to take positive moral action,” and it found that they are : “‘You’ve been presented with an example of what the best of us are capable of doing, and somehow this becomes an inspiration to want to do the same, at least temporarily.'”

The study’s co-author, Karl Aquino, notes that positive stories alone don’t have the imitative or inspirational power of “‘extreme’ examples of individual human goodness. … To demonstrate the ‘extreme’ virtue researchers are looking for, Aquino cites the Amish story. ‘Loving your enemy who has just killed your children is a lot more demanding than loving your enemy who has just cut you off on the road.'”)

Additional Sources:

Amish School Shooting and Grace

Amish killer’s widow thanks families of victims for forgiveness (The Telegraph)

Amish Forgive, Pray And Mourn (CBS)

Amish gather to pray at funerals for slain girls (CTV)

Amish Grace and Forgiveness

How can the Amish forgive what seems unforgivable? (USA Today)

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