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The Murder of a Friend - nhpeacenik
nhpeacenik
nhpeacenik
The Murder of a Friend
My friend Molly Hawthorn-MacDougall was murdered last Thursday at her home. She was just about the most gentle, welcoming person I knew. Her parents had refrained from speaking with the press, and had asked us to refrain as well, but now that they have spoken to the Concord Monitor (see http://www.concordmonitor.com/article/ag-haitian-national-shot-woman  or http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/news/725416-196/haitian-held-in-henniker-murder.html?i=1 ), I feel free to speak more openly about this heavy weight on my heart.

On Friday, I wrote about what our Quaker Meeting was facing in a general way, without naming Molly (http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=109989787&blogId=533670604) .

Molly's parents run a home for Vietnam veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other war-related injuries. They had raised their daughters in that house, where a certain level of stress was common, and they firmly inculcated Quaker principles by example. Since I first met them, their three girls have all grown to be effervescent and responsible young women of principle and joyous demeanor. Molly was there at Meeting, at picnics, and in the Meeting's First-day School. She attended the same Waldorf High School my daughter did, and the memory of her dancing round the May Pole with her classmates at that school remains in my mind as a perfect dovetailing of appearances and symbolism.  It was all the more poignant because it was during the May Day season that Molly died. She had decided to become a nurse... she was just a week away from graduating from her nursing program.

This past weekend, my wife had been co-organizer of a Stillness Retreat, a weekend spent in silence at the Meeting House. Five people had signed up to attend, but because of this traumatic event, the retreat was thrown open to anyone who needed or wanted to participate, with dozens of people showing up for an hour or two. I was one of them. After the peace vigil on Saturday, I came and spent some time in silence. Another participant  in the peace vigil had just come at noon from spending several hours at the Meeting House, so that the vigil itself was almost entirely silent that day.

On Sunday, we held a "called Meeting for Worship" to share our feelings and memories of Molly. People from throughout New England as well as Molly's family and her husband's family attended, and both the silences and the vocal sharing were moving. Molly's mother emphasized that, although she knew anger would come, she was determined not to succumb to hatred. One Quaker from the Boston area had brought a spring of  Lilac and my wife had placed it on the floor in the center of the circle of chairs.

I was unable to comprehend why anybody would kill Molly. Was it a robbery, a case of mistaken identity? Some of my friends feared her husband would be considered a suspect, though we knew he was a gentle soul. We breathed a sigh of relief when we learned that this was not being called a case of domestic violence, but then yesterday, we realized that there was an even more inflammatory connection. Apparently, Molly's murderer had been a recent Haitian immigrant, Roody Fleuraguste, who spoke no English, who had apparently fled the earthquake in January and was staying with his brother who worked for Molly's in-laws next door. He is only 22, about my daughter's age. When this news appeared in New Hampshire's famously rabid Union Leader newspaper, the comments on the web were almost universally on the subject of immigration, and they were hateful in tone. As Quakers we may have to offer our help to the brother of the accused man as well as to Molly's and her husband's family.

Not only must we not be drawn into calls for revenge against this one man, whose motives and background we do not yet know, but we must insist on the case against him not being used to condemn the millions of hard-working immigrants, with or without papers, that some would like to use as a scapegoat for all the ills that beset us. President Obama was correct in offering an extended grace period to Haitians who are working in the US, who are a lifeline for their families back home. In the wake of  the abominable laws passed last month in Arizona, we must make sure we are not adding gasoline to the anti-immigrant fire that is raging. We must insist on finding all the facts about this tragedy and presenting them dispassionately, then acting in the best interests of all concerned.

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