In my last post I ended by writing how I think the fact that few Amish question their way of life as being both a strength and a weakness — the strength being cohesion of the group, but the weakness being that without dissidents, there is a tendency towards “groupthink.” Unfortunately, or fortunately, the reason I’m here and not there is that I could not get my thinking in line with that of the group — the why questions kept bubbling up from within, no matter how hard I tried to suppress them. My community could not accommodate me any more than I could them. I would have had to silence my “self” my whole life long, had I chosen to stay compliant with the Amish ways.
I believe that one of the reasons the Amish are so revered by “English” people, is that we all long for a sense of belonging and community. We see what looks like an ideal community, but we fail to see the individual sacrifices necessary to achieve such a close-knit community. I believe our sense of community is commensurate with the level of sacrifice we make for that community. So what we long for when we look at the Amish way of life is the togetherness they have, but we are not willing to make the sacrifices that the Amish do — literally their individuality — to achieve the level of togetherness, security, and belonging that they have. It seems to be the human condition that through our struggles we come to appreciate and take joy in the very things we struggled to gain — for without the struggle we would take these things for granted. The struggle I went through to gain personal freedom is enough to make me appreciate this freedom for the rest of my days. As for a sense of community, I find it in varying degrees in whatever shared endeavors I undertake. I know it will never be the same as the Amish community I left, but then again I wouldn’t want it to be. The price was too high.