Higher Standards » Informative articles on Christian education » A Far Better Thing That We Do

A Far Better Thing That We Do

Seven years ago this October, the unimaginable happened: there was a shooting in an Amish school. The most vulnerable members of a most nonviolent people were the target of a heinous man. It stunned America, and it stunned the world. For years following, when other news has eclipsed most stories, this one lingered, partly because the victims were little girls who had so little knowledge of such evil that at first some of them did not even recognize a pistol for what it was.

But partly, the story haunted the edges of the news still because when such untrammeled innocence met such inexplicable savagery, good arose from it. The Amish forgave the killer and sought out his family to offer comfort and aid. The girls, ages six to thirteen, met their fate with calmness and courage and compassion for each other. Marian Fisher said, “Shoot me first and leave the other ones loose.” Amish syntax and Amish sense of duty perfectly rendered.

The courage of the girls in death and the grace of their families afterward grew out of consistent and longstanding attention to principle.

Those little girls faced their killer without panic. The littlest ones cried softly, but the older ones tried to reason with the madman, showing extraordinary presence even though they were but twelve and thirteen. How many adults could have been as focused and self-sacrificing in those horrible circumstances?

There are many lessons in this tragedy. But the one that touches nearest to us as parents, as grandparents, as teachers, or as Christians is this: the courage of the girls in death and the grace of their families afterward grew out of consistent and longstanding attention to principle. While we may not agree with the Amish theology, we can agree that training based on good principles is the only possible way to prepare for what comes.

Every day we must labor to teach the next generation effectively, driven by the knowledge that only consistent attention to godly principles makes it possible to live, and die, well. Let us not be weary in well doing. What we teach or show by example today will support the inculcation of principle. It will become part of someone’s life. And as we have seen, it will matter.