Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Plain People

By Neddie Jingo
The Amish are averse to any technology which they feel weakens the family structure. The conveniences that the rest of us take for granted such as electricity, television, automobiles, telephones and tractors are considered to be a temptation that could cause vanity, create inequality, or lead the Amish away from their close-knit community and, as such, are not encouraged or accepted in most orders. (Source: Amish 101 - Amish Culture, Beliefs & Lifestyle)
An admirable asceticism, too often misunderstood by we English. The Amish don't object to technology per se. What they distrust about it is its inherent divisiveness, its tendency to tempt vanity. If a modern device or technological advancement can be shown to improve life or the common safety without introducing competitiveness or vanity, most Ordnungs adopt it without cavil. Thus vaccination, electric lights on buggies, community telephones, electrically heated homes -- for which they often produce the power themselves, with windmills).

As I say, all very admirable, nearly Buddhist in its rejection of complexity. Were it not for all the silly monotheism, I might be tempted to apply for the straw hat and the chinstrap beard myself. Although perhaps I might not qualify for membership. I lack the requisite forbearance, the humility, the patience. While I'm intensely aware of technology's darker side and sympathetic to those who reject it, I lack the ascetic self-control that would prevent me from attending a funeral unencumbered by the mechanical advantage and efficient leverage afforded by a baseball bat.


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