Rod Dreher has written a profoundly moving post about a grandfather of one of the murdered girls at the Amish schoolhouse “instructing the young not to hate” the monster who shot up that school and tied up those girls with wire. Rod writes: “Could you do that? Could you stand over the body of a dead child and tell the young not to hate her killer? I could not. Please God, make me into the sort of man who could.”
I am a modestly observant Jew, not a Christian, but I can certainly see the beauty and the moral seriousness that would follow from attempting to hew as closely as possible to Christ’s example of unconditional love and forgiveness. All the same, this story disturbs me deeply — because there can be no question that anger can be as righteous as forgiveness. I’m not sure I would want to be someone who succeeded in rising above hatred of those who murder children. Does this mean that those who harbor hatred of child killers have somehow achieved a higher level of Godliness than those who succeed in banishing such hatred from their hearts? That seems to be a necessary corollary of the idea that it is heroic to “instruct the young not to hate,” and that seems very wrong to me.