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What the Amish Have to Offer America

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Message Bill Douglas
Below is an essay I wrote the night of 9/11/2001. As you may imagine, I received my share of hate mail from fellow Americans, but I also received many congratulations and thanks for this essay.

Today, as I learned of the Amish Americans. whose children were murdered recently, inviting the widow of the assailant to their daughter's funeral, and sharing contributions sent to them with her and her children . . . I cried. And I remembered the essay I had written on September 11th, 2001.

Where would America be if we as a nation had heeded the Amish lesson, Jesus' lessons, the path I described on the night of 9/11/2001 in the below essay? We would not be waist deep in Afghanistan and neck deep in Iraq. On 9/11/2001 one million Iranians came out in vigils to tell America they "were with us." The world would have stood by us, whatever we did.

The essay below I wrote on that day offered an option that could have changed the world forever and insured a world of support and allies that would have done everything to make sure America stayed safe and healthy. But, today, because of the choice we made, the choice demanded by the same people who sent me hate mail for the below essay . . . we are loathed worldwide, and our national treasures are running thru our fingers, as our young die in foreign lands, hundreds of thousands who will be damaged forever by what they have been sent to do in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are 250,000 damaged vets from the first gulf war, depleted uranium, etc. How many young Americans will we need to care for from the current wars.

Those Christians, like Falwell and Roberts, who put Jesus on a high high pedestal, so high that we don't need to try to follow his teaching of love, non-judgment, and the power of forgiveness, are false prophets. The Amish who suffered the recent tragedy and employed Jesus' request for forgiveness are the true followers of Christ. I hope America can learn from them.

Jesus offered us a great lesson to help us heal from bad times. We turn our backs on that lesson at our own peril. I'm not talking about some afterlife punishment, but rather the peril of the ramifications of our actions right here on earth, in this earthly life. Jesus' lessons were not airy fairy platitudes. They were practical, common sense, self help lessons for humanity in trying times like these.



America's Broken Heart - "Finding Miracles in the Valley of Death"

By Bill Douglas

This horror we have witnessed as a nation today reminds me of a personal horror I had years ago. Many years ago I lost my youngest son after watching him lie comatose in a hospital bed for a month.

The levels of consciousness I went through, are, according to psychologists, the same levels we are now going through as a nation. The first is a shocked numbness, the next rage and anger, and this followed by a great sorrow that seems so unbearable that sometimes people stay locked in the rage/anger stage in order to avoid the sorrow that seems so desolate and overwhelming.

America will never be the same. What that means depends on where we go from here. We can allow this tragedy and travesty to harden us and throw us into the never-ending spiral of violence that Israelis and Palestinians have found themselves in for so many years. We can declare war on a harboring nation and unleash the full might of the U.S. military power to pound that nation into oblivion, including some civilians that would be considered "collateral damage" just as the terrorists considered these victims "collateral damage". Or we can have our hearts opened by this enormous loss we have collectively experienced, and forever be changed in the way we feel when we see a bomb explode in the Palestinian homelands, Belgrade, Baghdad, or any other city in the world.

Naturally, I and other Americans felt black anger seeing the innocent suffering unfolding in New York and Washington, and not really sure of who, what, or how to direct that swelling rage. I had felt that before, the night of my son's death -- I was so hardened and angry, at the doctors, at myself, at God, at life, that I almost walked away from the most precious experience of my life.

My son's heart had failed several times, and my wife and I had agreed that if it happened again, we wouldn't revive him by torturing his tiny frame with anymore shocks or needles. So, on the night they called me into the hospital at 3 am with my two older toddlers in tow, I knew how the night would end. But, I didn't really because I allowed "something miraculous" to happen that night.

At first when the nurse asked me if I wanted to hold Isaac I said, no, so thick with anger that I had told myself that Isaac's soul had passed on and that this body was no longer my precious boy. But, a voice came to my mind that said, "no, you must now stand in the center of life, and feel it all, or forever run from the real meaning of everything."

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By William E. Douglas, Jr., who is author of "The Amateur Parent -- A Book on Life, Death, War & Peace, and Everything Else in the Universe." Bill has been a guest columnist for the Kansas City Star, The Business Journal, and other media worldwide. (more...)
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