10 Great Reasons to be Amish
I stopped and stared when I saw a flyer posted at my local library for a talk to be given by Author Soloma Furlong, a former Amish woman. The possibility of meeting a former Amish woman was very intriguing to me. Her book, entitled “Why I left the Amish”, was recently published and Soloma would soon be in my local library to discuss her book. I read and re-read the flyer to make sure I had the date and time memorized so that I wouldn’t forget. I didn’t want to miss this.
A few weeks later on a warmer than usual March evening in a small town in Connecticut, I sat on the library folding chair and intently listened to Soloma explain why, although she had left the Amish in part because of a desire to further her education, she missed many aspects of being Amish; leaving was not a black and white decision. While Saloma Furlong’s talk was fascinating and revealing, it left me unsatisfied and wanting to know more about the Amish. I walked away with a burning curiosity and still more questions racing through my mind such as:
What would it be like to live off the land, eat dinner by candlelight and ride in a buggy while listening to the clip clop of the horse’s hooves?
Does this way of life live up to its wholesome image and might I find satisfaction in living this way?
These and other questions remained in my mind.
It turns out that the Amish way of life does in many ways meet with its picture postcard image; there is a great deal of substance to their way of life, even more than meets the eye. And though Saloma Furlong, as well as others, have chosen to leave, many do so with mixed feelings. The Amish who make the choice to leave and pursue a modern life are in some ways torn between what they lose and what they gain, and many times end up returning to their Amish community; often returning for good.
While every society has it pros and cons, I wanted to focus here on some great reasons I have discovered for wanting to be Amish.
10 Reasons to be Amish
Clearly defined roles for women
In interviews with Amish women it was revealed that they were very happy and content with their lives. Most of these women felt that their roles as Mother, wife, church member etc., were clearly defined and that they were respected for their contributions by their husbands, family and community. These comments were made while thoughtfully considering modern life in the “outside world.” The Amish refer to anyone who is not Amish as “English.” In contrast, modern women might have trouble giving such a clear answer and definitively state “I am happy!” This is because for an English woman there are mixed messages placed on her by society about what her role really is. For the English woman choosing to have a career, raise a family, or both is laced with confusion and brings about various levels of conflict, even guilt. Women often feel guilty at work since they should be home with their kids and vice versa. Amish women do not live with this kind of confusion.
For myself, while I don’t think I could give up the freedoms that my modern life affords, I am envious in some ways, of a woman with clearly defined roles; there are no gray areas for Amish women and this must provide a great sense of peace.
Support of the community
Members of the Amish community pitch in to help one another when times get rough, including providing a meal and companionship for a sick or elderly person or to cover large medical costs that are more than one family can afford. Each member of the Amish community is committed to one another in a sincere action based way.
Family stays close by with multiple generations often living within walking distance of one another. Some couples even build an attachment to their homes to provide care for their elderly parents. Just as the Amish value their community, they value their family, they are literally one and the same.
Living off the land
While some Amish do work outside the home, many still farm and are able to supply either a large portion, or their complete needs for food. They don’t rely on others for these things.
Nowadays many people talk about going off the grid, but the Amish were never on the grid. For the most part, Amish are self-sustaining.
Using no more than you need. For this and many other beliefs, the Amish look to the Bible and specifically to the words of Jesus Christ. The Amish do not believe in having more than they really need; to acquire more means that others may have less. Having just what you need allows you to focus on your family, your community and your church and not be distracted by the desire to acquire more possessions.
In some ways, our modern society has rules similar to the Ordnung (Amish Rules), although not explicit. For example, as women we are expected to look a certain way, be a great Mother, complete our education, have a successful career and be a great wife when you put it all together though, that is a lot of pressure. Certainly modern women can dress as they wish and pursue the career they desire. And though not explicitly stated, they are rules nonetheless. While for Amish men and women the explicit rules of the Ordnung may seem stifling there is an inarguable and sustaining simplicity to it.
The Amish truly put family first, ideally mother and father are at home to both work and raise their children. The Amish live a family based life; choices are made based on how they affect the family unit, including the rejection of television, which ultimately cuts into family time.
Peaceful living I think, is the part that most people think of when considering the Amish or making a visit to an Amish community. Tourists are drawn to this peacefulness, nostalgia for the good old days, the slow pace, the home made meals and the living off the land.
The Amish build things to last.
Taking pride in what you do. The Amish believe in working hard and doing a job the right way, no short cuts. They adhere to the belief that “idle hands make the devil’s work” and believe that hard work is a good thing. Many people look to the Amish when seeking the best carpentry and quilting and Amish are known to be exemplary employees.
No need to buy clothes. Maybe this would frustrate you or you might be thrilled with the idea. Amish don’t want to compete to see who has newest clothing styles, they banish this from their minds by having rules, part of the Ordnung (Amish rules), about what clothes to wear. Each woman sews the clothes for her family based on the Ordnung pertaining to colors and styles. The uniform like attire brings unity to the group so that no one stands out. This is one way in which they express their equality. The Amish accept giving up or upgivva, the prospect of dressing as an individual for the benefit of the group.
While following the Ordnung may seem stifling to an outsider, there is a great deal of substantive value based living to look to and learn from as well.
Young Angelic Amish Singers
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© 2012 Tracy Lynn Conway
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