Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Ripple On Still Waters: Charles Carl Roberts IV Attacks Purity Itself

I couldn’t help but be shocked and stunned by the deadly murder-suicide by Charles Carl Roberts IV, the 3rd school-related shooting in the past two weeks. This shooting was in my back yard, practically; I lived 20 miles from Lancaster Country, worked that exact town, and have driven by the school house in question a hundred times. But my proximity to the crime is not what made it stand out to me.

The real horror is the feeling of defilement in this particular crime. In so many ways, it was the purest aspects of life that converged at the heart of this crime, and as the after-affects are felt for years to come, they will be marked against the purity that could have been. Ripple on still water, when there is no pebble tossed nor wind to blow; disturbing this relative calm is quite disturbing indeed.

This attack fell upon on a predominantly Amish community, a pond of calm indeed. The Amish consistently strive for simplicity, a plain existence based upon the concept that pride should be avoided at all costs. What’s more, the killer is a milk man, and is there any profession purer than the milkman, really? I can’t help but draw on images of early sitcoms with men in all white outfits and huge smiles.

But 20 years ago, someone did something, who knows what, I think we can all guess was a horrible act. The perpetrator of that act probably thought it was an isolated action, but we are now seeing that this was the first pebble on the water, creating a ripple effect that we just felt, and that may be felt for years to come.

In the movie “Unforgiven”, Clint Eastwood makes the comment: “Hell of a thing, killin’ a man. Takes away all he is, and all he’s ever gonna be.” In the case of 12 girls, who knows the infinite potential that Roberts has taken away from society? The huge tragedy of taking a child’s life is compounded by the fact that we haven’t yet begun to figure out what their potential is, or what their destiny is. And now we will never know, as the ripple expands.

Being girls, the ripples here extend even further. Being a female life taken, who knows what life would have been brought into the world by the woman? One school of thought says that the person who helps this society reach its pinnacle will have to come from a society untouched by the violence and hatred of the world; well, perhaps that person we all hope for in troubled times has been taken from us now pre-nattily.

The ripple expands ever outwards, touching the entire Amish community, bringing them into a world which they have always strived to avoid. What will this generation of Amish people have to experience that others avoided? Security at their schools, weapons in their homes, who knows? Without question, word will spread of this, and the little aspects that defined the Amish people will alter, with potential long-term affects.

And where will the next pebble be tossed? Who from this tragedy will be so affected that they continue the cycle of violence? The worst case scenario is, of course, that an Amish person, a family member of a victim, will take some form of revenge, marking a huge shift from the peaceful potential of life to the harsh violence of revenge. But it could just as easily be the children of Roberts, or the non-Amish friends of the victims down the road. Still, pebbles may be falling from this for years.

The pebbles need not be as extreme as total revenge, either. I suspect that if Roberts had been set off by a murder, we would know about it already. Even the general depression, personality changes, and more violent nature that may result from losing a loved one, whether it is one of the children from the school house or a beloved father or spouse, can act as the pebble that starts the next ripple.

The incredibly smooth surface of this pond puts the ripples into stark relief, and I suspect it will make the ripples more and more visible as the years go on. Ripple on still water. I suspect that Charles Carl Roberts IV will have a profound effect on more than just the community he attacked yesterday.

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Posted by Scottage at 11:12 AM / | |