A young man posing as an insurance salesman gained admission to the residence occupied by three sisters who ranged in age from 84 to 90. Once inside, he donned a mask, and assaulted the ladies with a stun gun; he also punched, slapped and kicked them over a two-hour period.
During his rampage he indicated that he had been a Mennonite, although people who knew him said that he never was a member of that faith. He also read from the Bible, and vandalized the one belonging to the ladies.
Finally he spread a variety of household chemicals – bleach, vinegar, pesticides, etc. - throughout the house, and left the ladies tied up. Had it not been for a relative who stopped in four hours later, they might have died. They are expected to recover from their injuries.
Police reported that the assailant was identified and arrested shortly after the incident. No one knows what set him off. According to one acquaintance he had “a soft heart” and “an inquiring mind.”
The Mennonite faith as practiced in this area is distinguished primarily by the commitment of its members to service and pacifism. The test scores of students at the Lancaster Mennonite High School are “consistently superior to those of local and state averages for public and church-related schools.” Students are offered a rich variety of activities, including athletics, drama, music and art. All high school students attend daily chapel services and take a theology or Bible class each year.
Why anyone would find fault with a community of faith such as this boggles the imagination, but like the events in Newtown, it seems to stem from a deranged mind.
Could it have been prevented? Perhaps. If someone had recognized the symptoms of the young man's disengagement from the real world, treatment may have worked. But our ability to recognize and react to those symptoms is woefully inadequate.
It is the government's responsibility to protect its citizens. Gun control laws, a hot topic at the present time, are not enough; obviously they could not have prevented the Mennonite atrocity. A systematic approach, covering weapons control, education, and psychological profiling and treatment is indicated. Only the government can organize and finance such a wide-ranging approach.
Does President Obama have the leadership ability to spearhead such an approach? I hope so.
My books, “There Are Only Seven Jokes” and “The Spirit Runs
Through It” are available in paperback or Kindle at Amazon.