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.
6 thoughts on “How Much Sacrifice?”
Interesting – I never thought about it as in depth. But then, you had more reason to than I would. I am grateful for your perspective. Thank you for sharing it!
I love your blog, it is so interesting and it is great to learn about the Amish by a former Amish. You have written about so many interesting thingt too. I particularly liked the one about beg-courting. In the old days in the area of Sweden I come from a very particular way of bed-courting was common. There a group of boys came to a girl’s window and sung. First they would all sing and then the one interested in coming in to the girl would finish off singing solo. He would beg her to let him in and if she wanted to let him in she would and he would lay in her bed similar to the Amish custom. The biggest difference would be that since they had sung for quite a while the boys would probably have woken up the parents too and by singing solo also told them who is in their daughter’s bedroom. This meant that yes sometimes this courting resulted in babies but since more than the girl would know who the father was he could not really say he wasn’t.
It is an interesting custom although it has not survived to this day.
Hi Saloma –
I echo Karen’s appreciation of your indepth treatment of these subjects. We’re not getting the “tourist treatment.” This is a true, behind the scenes look at the Amish community.
Thank you everyone for your compliments of my posts. It is so gratifying to know that there are people out there appreciating this information. It makes keeping up with the blog very enjoyable.
It’s not just information. It has been so enjoyable to read about you and your life. I just started reading your blog on Sunday afternoon and have wanted to do little else. I love learning about different cultures and religions. But even more than that, I love learning about people. I admire your strength and your beliefs. You seem like a truly good and decent human being. You’re the kind of person I’d love for a neighbor and friend!
Anon, thank you for these kind thoughts. I’m gratified to know that you are enjoying the blog. It makes it all worth it…