There are some things that are truly impossible, within the Empty Quarter.
Not canines flying starships, not dancing women on worlds 700 light years from Earth. And certainly not repulsive crimes like a 32-year old man tying up 10 little girls and shooting them all, killing five before killing himself.
No, that’s not impossible at all… as any resident of the Middle East (on which the Empty Quarter is based) could tell you.
No: what’s impossible is this kind of reaction, to the murderer’s parents:
Terri Roberts’s husband thought they’d have to move far away. He knew what people thought of parents of mass murderers. He believed they would be ostracized in their community, blamed for not knowing the evil their child was capable of.
But in the hours after the massacre, as Amish parents still waited in a nearby barn for word about whether their daughters had survived, an Amish man named Henry arrived at the Robertses’ home with a message: The families did not see the couple as an enemy. Rather, they saw them as parents who were grieving the loss of their child, too. Henry put his hand on the shoulder of Terri Roberts’s husband and called him a friend.
The world watched in amazement as, on the day of their son’s funeral, nearly 30 Amish men and women, some the parents of the victims, came to the cemetery and formed a wall to block out media cameras. Parents, whose daughters had died at the hand of their son, approached the couple after the burial and offered condolences for their loss.
Then, just four weeks after the shooting, the couple was invited to meet with all the families in a local fire hall. One mother held Roberts’s gaze as both women’s eyes blurred with tears,
she said. They were all grieving; they were all struggling to make sense of the senseless.
But the Amish did more than forgive the couple. They embraced them as part of their community. When Roberts underwent treatment for Stage 4 breast cancer in December, one of the girls who survived the massacre helped clean her home before she returned from the hospital. A large yellow bus arrived at her home around Christmas, and Amish children piled inside to sing her Christmas carols.
This isn’t how the Middle East rolls… or Modern India, for that matter.
Even the fascist Hegemonio — whose cold-eyed parents really do have the authority to kill their own children, as per Imperial Rome — would take violent exception of anyone else killing their children, without explicit permission. And if said killer died before justice was meted out, his parents would be wise to stay out of town.
The kind of forgiveness we see in this story is part of the warp and woof of Amish life, this Christianity Today essay explains, which makes it impossible to strip-mine from the Amish culture and applied elsewhere. The word “forgiveness” is so bandied around. Ten years out, what does it mean?
Some things are really, really tied to a specific people, at a specific place, at a specific time.
I hope that I have made the 993 Empty Quarter a distinct and unique — if rather inhospitable — place, which can never be confused with any other location within the Imperium.
Perhaps you can do the same thing, in your own way.
In the “Image vs Reality” department:
Yuri Gagarin, first human in space, was a devout Christian, says his close friend
Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, in line with the official atheistic Soviet line, proclaimed that Gagarin had told him the famous line about not seeing God in space. But nobody else ever heard Gagarin say it –and he never repeated it.
In fact he was a baptized member of the Russian Orthodox Church. Due to Soviet repression of Christianity, he kept that to himself.
“Gagarin also became well-known for the phrase he is said to have stated, a phrase that was used extensively by the atheist propaganda of the time,” writes Nafpaktos Hierotheos Vlachos, the head of today’s Russian Orthodox Church. “And I say ‘he is said to have stated.’”
In fact, “Gagarin was a baptized faithful throughout all his life,” says General Valentin Petrov, Professor of the Russian Air Force Academy and a personal friend of the cosmonaut. “He always confessed God whenever he was provoked, no matter where he was.”
In a 2007 article titled “Yuri Gagarin, the Christian,” by Maria Biniari, she wrote on his birthday in 1964, he visited a monastery, the Lavra of Saint Serge, and met with the Prior — the monk in charge.
There, he had a photo taken of himself, which he told the priest “this is for those who don’t believe.” He signed it “with my best wishes, Yuri Gagarin.”
Governments lie: surprise, surprise.
It makes me wonder what lies the Solomani Party has been issuing lately… and what the Heroes of the Race really think, behind closed doors.