In the early 18th century, there was a group of traditionalist Christian church fellowships with Swiss German Anabaptist origins, who migrated to settle in Pennsylvania in the United States. Today they are known as the Amish.
They lead a very simple life, wear plain homemade clothes, and are reluctant to adopt the conveniences of modern technology such as electricity, television, radios, automobiles, etc. The collective community spends their time working as farmers and travel by horse-drawn buggies, bicycles or by walking on foot. They are Amish, an ethnic minority in America.
The Amish are best known for their plain clothing, most of which are self-made. Men wear solid-colored shirts, broad-brimmed hats and suits that signify similarities amongst one another. They grow beards to symbolize manhood, marital status and promote humility but are forbidden to have a mustache. Amish women are to wear calf-length dresses, muted colors along with bonnets and aprons and they are not allowed to wear jewelry of any kind. The Amish attire, which bears similarities to that of 17th-century European peasants’ clothes, clearly reflects their reluctance to change, their respect for tradition, and their interpretation of biblical scriptures, particularly those which warn against conforming to the ways of the world (e.g. Romans 12:2).
There is a strong bond that unites the Amish community and protects it from outside influences from the modern world. Everyday life and custom are governed by an unwritten code of behavior called the Ordnung. The Ordnung covers matters such as dress, permissible uses of technology, religious duties, and rules regarding interaction with the outside world.
Amish church membership begins with baptism, normally about the ages of 16 to 23 years. Once a person is baptized within the church, he or she may marry only within the faith. Religious services are conducted in High German while Pennsylvania Dutch is spoken at home and is common in daily discourse.
The Amish value rural life, manual labor, and humility, all under the auspices of living what they interpret to be God’s word.
Amish men work on the farm, using horses to plow, cultivate and harvest crops. Amish women usually stay at home as housewives and take care of children. They don’t work on Sundays, as it is spared for church-going.
Telephones are basically shunned among the Amish. Besides, the use of electricity is strongly avoided, as it is a prime connection to the world that could lead to many temptations and the deterioration of church and family life.
And why don’t they use cars? The reason for the Amish belief is that cars will disrupt their church association, break the inherent law and people will run out.
Bearing children, raising them, and socializing with neighbors and relatives are the greatest functions of the Amish family. They love and encourage large family units and believe that each birth is a precious gift that God has bestowed upon them. The Amish maintain monogamy, and normally each couple gives birth to six or seven children, and they do not practice any form of birth control. Notably, abortion is never allowed in their faith. As a result, the population of Amish has increased rapidly since 1920.
There is an Amish rule, that is, when Amish men and women decide to get married, they can spend the night, holding and talking with each other before getting married, but without any premarital sex. In order to avoid such potential acts, a wooden panel would be placed on the couple’s bed to separate the two. It can be said that their practice and compliance with this principle are very effective.
Amish children typically attend one-room schools run by the community, and they attend school only through the eighth grade, at age 13/14. Higher education is generally discouraged, as it can lead to social segregation and the unraveling of the community.
Amish people not only avoid packaged foods and processed foods, but they also grow all the food they need using organic farming methods. They raise their own livestock and poultry too. Their food is always of natural and non-GMO origin. It is important that they eat seasonal food, and abundant foods are canned or fermented.
The Amish chose the wisdom that their ancestors passed on instead of following the “modern” way of life, meaning that they lived according to previous generations’ experiences. In the life of the Amish “Stress” has no room to exist. They do not compete with each other but create an equal community of lifestyle based on equality, cooperation, and harmony among all members of the community. Therefore, it is rare for the Amish community to find people with autism or mental retardation.
Amish people of today live just like the Amish people of 300 years ago and so there are many lessons that we can learn from them. They have a sustainable self-sufficient life and absolutely do not use toxic chemicals in all cases. They are not threatened by many diseases and are healthier than the majority of the American population. For example, health experts say, that there are almost no cases of cancer within the Amish community. Amish communities are considered to be the most healthy people in the United States.
While most of us today would think it impossible to live without modern conveniences such as electricity and cars, the happy Amish are a testimony to the best lifestyle in harmony with mother nature. And what makes the Amish unique is that they choose to live their life without modernity when it would be readily available.