Monday, October 01, 2007

Living Amongst the English

I've always admired the Amish and their way of life, not relying on technology but getting most everything they need from the land. We have a big Amish community just north of here, and we sometimes go to one of the towns that is on the edge of their territory. There aren't many Old Order Amish there, as most have converted to the Mennonite faith. Sugarcreek - the town we visit- is full of shops run by Mennonites and ordinary people selling the Amish name. You can find just about anything you'd think of as being made by Amish, from cheeses to canned goods to quilts. The town is full of visitors year round, and when they have their annual Swiss Festival the main road through that part of the country is jammed with people coming to see an Amish festival, though what they really see are business people cashing in on the local - but mostly unseen - way of life.

As I said, the true Amish faith has diminished considerably over the last few decades, with more and more younger people tiring of the traditions and abstinences of the Old Order. Even most of the people who proclaim to be true Amish have found loopholes to enjoy the ease of the "English". If you look in their barns you'll likely find electricity with tvs, stereos and computers in many of them, although these things are forbidden inside their house. Still, the Old Order does exist, with many of its members shunning the need to outfit barns and sheds with electricity and modern conveniences. I have to admire their dedication. Although they are certainly missing out on the ease of our way of life, what they are doing is surviving, the way humans have for untold generations, from the fruits of the land. They have everything they need without feeling the urge to amass excessive amounts of material goods, and... they seem content. If you've ever seen an Amish baby or young kid throwing a fit in the store then you've seen a rarity. Their children are always quiet and well behaved, at least until the teen years. When I worked in a department store several years ago they would come to the store on certain days, mostly being driven there by a Mennonite friend with a large van out of which would unload about 25 people who would then all fill carts up and somehow cram themselves back into that van... but I don't ever recall a youngster misbehaving when they were in the store. I wish I could say that about my own kids.

The simple way of life has appealed to me for some time now, even though I still sit down and watch tv often, and get on this computer more than I should, but I think if I'd been born into that life I could make a go of it, and be content doing it.


Blogger Michelle's Spell said...

Hey Tim,

I often see groups like this and wonder what it would be like. My own life is so very different and sometimes it's nice to imagine what it would be like, plain and simple as one of their books says. I suspect I'd be a bad Amish woman, though, given my love for clothes and my hatred for bonnets of any kind. :)

8:55 AM  

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