The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Amish killings

The shootings at an Amish schoolhouse, in the same week as two other school shootings, troubles me deeply.  I feel that in some critical ways, America has lost its moral footing, its balance, and we’re seeing some of the fruits.

To me, violence and anger are always caused by fear, and fear has become such a dominating factor in discourse, government, and daily life over the last years that it has poisoned and negatively affected much that I love in this country.  Fear is a survival drive, but it also cripples.  The answer is love with strength. 

I am saddened.
Love and fear compete for the same place in our hearts.  To those who do not understand, compassion can seem weak. Seeking to comprehend the hearts and motivations of those who seek to harm us can seem like folly.  And if the seeker is afraid to stand up to tyranny, or defend his family, then such compassion might actually be a way to hide a sense of inferiority and fear.  “Can’t we all just get along” sounds one way if the speaker is afraid of conflict.  When a master fighter says the same thing, it is different—this is why the legends of the Shaolin priests, typified by the television image of Kwai Chang Kane, struck so deeply—a man of peace who can give you all the war you can handle.

I seek to be such a man, and to encourage such emotions in others.  I grieve for the families victimized by this poor sick man’s violent outburst.  I wish he had sought help, or, lacking that, simply had the presence of mind and heart to end his own life without harming others. 

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