Human behavior can be puzzling! No matter how wonderful or horrific a given current event is there is a logical explanation for its happening. That also means that there is a logical and healthy response to that event, but alas, there is also an illogical and unhealthy reaction to the same event. Why are we most likely to react in a self-destructive way to the challenging events in our lives rather than in a healthy, life-enhancing response? Whether we react or respond depends on the narrative we choose to be contained in, our worldview.
For example, in 2006, an armed young man walked into a one-room Amish schoolhouse and ordered all of the boys and adults to leave. He shot the remaining 10 girls, ages 9 to 13 and then committed suicide. Five of the girls died. Even though most people are bewildered by such an event, the answer, although obvious, is one that we are loath to accept so we repress it into our collective shadow. The American community does not want to take responsibility for its collective self-destructive behavior. We don’t want to undertake the radical transformation, the wrenching changes, in our collective story from which we get our identity, our sense of self. That would create more anxiety than we are comfortable with. Are we making a good choice?
There are Americans who are capable of choosing wisely in the face of such tragedies described above. “The Amish community forgave the killer, refused to seek justice, demand vengeance, or even to judge him. They visited and comforted the killer’s widow and children (who were not Amish), just as they embraced the relatives of the slain.” (1)
The Amish worldview is very different than the prevailing American worldview. If the Amish worldview prevailed in America we might be able to create a sustainable community. One difference between the two narratives is that the Amish were able to express the healthiest of human behaviors, namely compassion. A number of African American communities have also responded compassionately to similar tragedies.
Is it possible for the majority of us who have unhealthy beliefs, attitudes and values comprising our story and the resulting identities that can’t seem to find the compassion that exists within everyone to change our behavior? What can we teach our children to reduce violence in our communities? What story was being told in those Amish families? What were those children being taught in that Amish classroom?
Click on the link below to continue the search for a new curriculum for the schools in America.
Insight # 145: The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. —In Lincoln’s address to Congress, December 1862
- “Curriculum” in this blog and also in print version, The ABC’s of Simple Reality Vol I (2018), by Roy Charles Henry, pages 120-121.
- Morrison, Toni. “Goodness.” The New York Times Book Review. September 8, 2019, page 16.