Dream can still be realized

To the editor:

The brutal massacre of 96 pacifist Christian Native Americans at Gnadenhutten on March 8, 1782, marked a watershed moment in American history. It was the first mass slaughter west of the Alleghenies, and this American tragedy ushered in a century of others, a legacy of violence and vulture culture which still haunts and hurts us to this day.

Yet, that is not the way it could or should have been. This “Sanctuary of Grace” was a living model of what America could have been if not for the dark forces that emerged to bludgeon it to death 226 years ago. For the first sustained encounter of the Old World and the New World in the Ohio Valley was a brilliant success in making peace and building covenanted community across racial and ethnic lines. Heard, in song and speech, within its sturdy log houses were Lenape, Mohegan, English and German; seen within its fields were Native Americans and immigrant Europeans working side by side, and worshipping together, as one united people and sanctified family of God for some 10 years in the wilderness as a short-lived historical model of actualized peacemaking between two radically different cultures, the antithesis of the dark forces which utterly destroyed it.

Those dark forces are tragically still with us — 50 years ago they murdered the American prophet, Martin Luther King, and, just this year, on Valentine’s Day, they massacred 17 school kids.

How different things would be if the American tragedy at Gnadenhutten had never happened, but instead the practice and promise of its peaceful unity in diversity were fully followed. The dream can still be realized. America the beautiful is ultimately a nationwide sanctuary of grace, one nation under God, a work in progress.

The Rev. Werner Lange

Newton Falls

(Editor’s note: Lange is a Democrat seeking his party’s nomination for Ohio’s 6th Congressional District seat.)

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