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Author Topic: The Amish as a model?  (Read 15769 times)

Keyser Soce

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The Amish as a model?
« on: May 27, 2008, 10:48:49 pm »

I left Chicago today and am smack in the middle of Amish country. I plan to spend a day or two in the area learning what little I can pick in so short a time. From what I have read, they are living pretty close to my ideal. I see it as a base model for an independent off grid community with lots of room to improve. Coincidentally, I received this bulletin just today.

***********************************************************************************************************

 Monday, 26 May 2008

Anyone who has read my autobiography knows that there is much in my
family history of which I am not proud.

However, as with most human
beings, there is at least one aspect of my heritage for which I am
deeply grateful: having ancestors and relatives in the Amish
community.

Although I do not have frequent contact with the
community, earlier in my life I spent years in close proximity and
have learned a great deal firsthand about and from these amazing
human beings and their subculture.


This past week I had the opportunity, while visiting family in
Northern Indiana, to spend a day with Amish relatives.

Unlike my associations with them previously, this visit was colored by my acute
awareness of civilization's collapse and the ramifications of that
reality for most of us.

With that in mind, I keenly observed and discussed their lifestyle with them as gas prices now loom toward $5
per gallon.

I came away from the experience with an unprecedented
conviction that in order to survive and perhaps even thrive in the
throes of collapse, it will be necessary to adopt a number of aspects
of the Amish lifestyle.

Perhaps most obvious is the reality that the Amish do not own or
drive cars although they are not averse to riding in them or using
public transportation.

It should be understood that Amish practices
vary according to geographic location.

For example, Amish in Pennsylvania have different practices than those in Indiana or Ohio;
however, no authentically Amish person anywhere in North America owns
or drives a car.

For local transportation, the horse and buggy are
used, and for long-distance travel, busses, trains, or the hiring of
drivers of vans or cars is commonplace.

Thus, the Amish are not impacted as we are by high gas prices.

They use sparse amounts of gasoline to power small motors around their homes and farms that
power refrigerators, washing machines, and pump running water.

Many Amish farms have giant windmills that also pump water for home and
farm animal consumption.

The meal I shared with my Amish relatives a few days ago consisted
of a delicious salad comprised of vegetables from their garden,
chicken butchered on their farm, and an assortment of other foods all
raised and prepared by them.

After dark the Amish rely on Coleman lanterns for light; however,
some communities use only candles and kerosene lamps.

In any event,
all are off the grid and do not utilize electricity, natural gas, or
home heating oil.

Woodstoves provide heating, and wood fuels the
kitchen stove on which meals are cooked.

For small meals a Coleman
camping stove may be used which is fueled by propane canisters.

Some more conservative branches of the community do not have indoor
plumbing at all, do not use gasoline-powered motors, do not have
refrigerators, couches, or stuffed chairs.

They use no running water,
but only windmills and hand pumps.

The principal occupation of the Amish community is farming, but over
the decades, higher prices for land and equipment have necessitated
their having jobs off the farm.

Amish men frequently work in a nearby
town, and many men and women have small home businesses such as
harness making, furniture building, weaving, and a variety of other
crafts that they sell on the farm or in town at flea markets or may
place in stores on consignment.

They take enormous pride in making
things and doing so with extraordinary care and craftsmanship.

For the most part, the Amish cherish self-sufficiency and not having to
depend on working outside the home for their sustenance.

One of the most impressive aspects of the Amish community is their
commitment to taking care of each other.

Just as no authentic Amish
person drives a car, none has insurance of any kind.

Amish "insurance", as they are fond of saying, is their community.

If a member of the community accumulates enormous medical bills, a
collection is taken, and with it, the bills are paid.

If a house or barn burns, the community rebuilds it.

Litigation in their community
is unknown in terms of their taking anyone to court as they do not
believe in lawsuits.

Moreover, the Amish are pacifists who do not
believe in retaliation of any kind, physical, emotional, or legal.

One may be tempted to assume that Amish separateness from the
non-Amish community causes them to be isolated or uninformed, but
quite the opposite is true.

They read local newspapers and have one
of their own the Sugarcreek Budget
..
, established in 1890, with circulation throughout the North American
Amish community.

While the Amish do not own computers, they may use
them in work outside the home, and some are familiar with the
Internet.

Almost every Amish family is aware of and practices some form of
alternative medicine.

The use of herbs, home made salves, poultices,
and massage therapy permeates the community.

While they utilize traditional medicine, they also rely on other modalities such as
chiropractic medicine.

The Amish community in North America is generally aware of where the
non-Amish world is headed.

They see collapse writ large and have a
variety of opinions about it.

Some fear that as the collapse of
civilization accelerates, the non-Amish world will beat down their
doors to steal their food and other resources.

Other Amish people
look forward to teaching the non-Amish about sustainable living if
they are asked to do so.

When I asked one Amish man recently how he
would feel if the non-Amish came to him in droves asking to be taught
how to survive, he smiled and replied, "That would be our greatest
pleasure.

" Overall, the Amish do not experience as much anxiety about
collapse as non-Amish collapse-watchers may simply because they have a
very long history of self-sufficiency and taking care of their
families and community members, and they rely on that experience to
sustain them in exceedingly difficult times.

I do not mean to idealize the Amish community or imply that it is
without its flaws.

I recoil at its gender roles and divisions of
labor according to gender, as well as the enormous size of families
in the community, parents typically producing eight to ten children.

The Amish only provide education for their children through the
eighth grade, but speaking as they do both English and a German
dialect, they graduate young people who are both very well-educated
and bilingual.

Each time I am privileged to associate with the Amish I am deeply
touched by their warmth, generosity, and well-I really can't think of
a more apt word than love.

Despite their rigid gender roles and
proliferating birth rate, I know that if I were in dire straights, I
could turn to them and be given what I need.

In that sense the movie
"Witness" was spot-on in its portrayal of one Pennsylvania Amish
family who gave respite and healing to a severely wounded
Philadelphia detective being pursued by colleagues in his homicide
unit whose corruption he had courageously uncovered.

The Amish live, rather than merely teach or preach, the values of
Christ and other great spiritual teachers.

They demonstrate the
Golden Rule daily and seek to live peaceably with all beings.

In the
days of the military draft, young Amish men registered as
conscientious objectors and worked in hospitals to serve their
country as medical assistants rather than participate in war.

Every Amish man and woman's life is about some aspect of service whether in
a formally structured setting or simply living a life of service in
relation to his/her fellow humans.

And while their religion is Christian and not animistic, they revere the earth as a gift from the
creator-a gift which they cherish and endeavor to consciously protect
and preserve.

An extraordinary book offering a deeper, unbiased understanding of
the Amish community is Joe Mackall's Plain Secrets: An Outsider Among
The Amish

Like me, Mackall stands in awe of the bonds of community that
sustain the Amish, and their world view, which I believe has caused
them to endure and equips them with the individual and social
qualities necessary for navigating the collapse of civilization.

While I believe that the Amish will be impacted by severe economic
meltdown, climate change, and all other aspects of empire's
unraveling, I suspect that they will suffer less physical and
emotional loss than their non-Amish neighbors because of the values
and behaviors that have sustained them for centuries.

In my opinion,
they are consummate role models of simplicity, sustainability, and
compassionate service to the earth community.
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"In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man; brave, hated, and scorned. When his cause succeeds however, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot." -- Mark Twain

Jitgos

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Re: The Amish as a model?
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2008, 09:10:07 am »

Where in Amish country are you? I live in northern Indiana about 20 minutes from a huge Amish population. Thought you might be near.
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Rebel

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Re: The Amish as a model?
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2008, 12:32:10 pm »

I'm sure they're nice and loving and all, but to me they've always tried to keep to themselves. They never want to engage in conversation (unless its business-related) and it's very rare when they will welcome a non-Amish into their community for any length of time. They especially keep their daughters away from Amerikan men. Though, I suppose if I were them I'd being doing things very similar. My point is, they just don't seem very friendly. I do have a lot of respect for them however...
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Jitgos

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Re: The Amish as a model?
« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2008, 08:38:18 am »

Hahaha I dated an Amish girl about 10 years ago. She was in that period when they can leave and go crazy. I regret not talking about the lifestyle and religion with her, but I was interested in other things at the time. I met her parents a couple times and they were nice enough. Not really engaging, but I didn't want to talk to them so... Now I really respect the community a lot as far as being outside the system and showing how a community can clearly work without government intervention.
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Rebel

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Re: The Amish as a model?
« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2008, 11:30:40 am »

Hahaha I dated an Amish girl about 10 years ago. She was in that period when they can leave and go crazy.
Really? How'd that go and what was she like?
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Jitgos

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Re: The Amish as a model?
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2008, 11:51:43 am »

She was completely normal (for a woman... I kid I kid... lol). Met her at a club and never would have known she was Amish or anything. She definitely was taking advantage of being free and in the world. I guess she had to dress up in Amish gear for her job, but I never saw her like that. We didn't date for too long.
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Keyser Soce

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Re: The Amish as a model?
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2008, 07:12:51 pm »

Where in Amish country are you? I live in northern Indiana about 20 minutes from a huge Amish population. Thought you might be near.

I am currently in Shipshewana till mid-day tomorrow. Let me know if you're close, I'll check my messages first thing in the morning.
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"In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man; brave, hated, and scorned. When his cause succeeds however, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot." -- Mark Twain

Keyser Soce

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Re: The Amish as a model?
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2008, 07:18:35 pm »

I sure would like to have stayed awhile and found someone to give classes on some lost arts. Things we could learn include slaughtering and butchering, spinning, knitting and crocheting, quilting, soap making (some still make their own lye) and noodle making. I'm sure I can find folks in NH to teach me all of these things, just perhaps not one group.
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NHArticleTen

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Re: The Amish as a model?
« Reply #8 on: May 31, 2008, 08:04:44 am »


Reminds me of "Angel and the Bad Man" featuring John Wayne...

MaineShark

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Re: The Amish as a model?
« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2008, 08:56:02 am »

I sure would like to have stayed awhile and found someone to give classes on some lost arts. Things we could learn include slaughtering and butchering, spinning, knitting and crocheting, quilting, soap making (some still make their own lye) and noodle making. I'm sure I can find folks in NH to teach me all of these things, just perhaps not one group.

Well, if the one group is "Porcupines," then you could...  I can think of folks who could teach those skills.

Joe
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Jitgos

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Re: The Amish as a model?
« Reply #10 on: May 31, 2008, 10:16:17 am »

Shipshewana is about 30 minutes from me. It's almost noon now so I'll catch you next time or in NH. I'll be there in a month or two.
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Keyser Soce

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Re: The Amish as a model?
« Reply #11 on: June 01, 2008, 01:22:53 am »

I sure would like to have stayed awhile and found someone to give classes on some lost arts. Things we could learn include slaughtering and butchering, spinning, knitting and crocheting, quilting, soap making (some still make their own lye) and noodle making. I'm sure I can find folks in NH to teach me all of these things, just perhaps not one group.

Well, if the one group is "Porcupines," then you could...  I can think of folks who could teach those skills.

Joe

I just met a blacksmith/ custom knife maker and a shoemaker/ leather worker. Oh the skills.
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"In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man; brave, hated, and scorned. When his cause succeeds however, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot." -- Mark Twain

beechrose

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Re: The Amish as a model?
« Reply #12 on: June 21, 2008, 11:31:15 am »

I have a tremendous amount of respect for the Amish, for all the reasons you mentioned.  I don't have a problem with their family size or gender-role division, all of which they enter into freely.  They give their children the option of not living their lifestyle and generally do not ostracize the children who choose to live in "the world," though, of course, by definition it's harder to keep up with and communicate with those kids.  Labor has to be divided up SOMEHOW, and gender roles are how they have all freely chosen to do it. If no one is being coerced or oppressed in this social model, I don't see the problem. It is a narrow lifestyle and one that excludes some groups by default (men who enjoy childrearing, ambitious business-oriented women, and gays and lesbians, to name a few) but it seems they're all consenting adults there. 

It's also not true that people's education ends in the 8th grade. Their FORMAL, supervised academic education does, but at that age, they begin vocational education and most Amish continue to self-educate about their own interests their entire lives.  You will never meet an Amish person who uses poor grammar. They have a farmer's market here in South Florida that we go to every year in the winter and they are an incredibly respectful, friendly, well-educated group of people, and their children are a marvel to behold. Not a single screaming, spoiled brat among them!

I also have no issue with the family size. heir community model simply wouldn't work if they each had 2.3 kids.  It's the same concept as what was driving Social Security but on a smaller scale (and one of the primary reasons why SS is collapsing - people aren't having enough kids to sustain it).  It would seem to me that these people are totally self-sustaining, so any practical sociological and/or environmental argument against large family sizes doesn't apply.

The only thing is... I would miss the damn Internet. I won't lie. ;)
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Rebel

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Re: The Amish as a model?
« Reply #13 on: June 21, 2008, 11:36:49 am »


The only thing is... I would miss the damn Internet. I won't lie. ;)
Exactly, plus I'm not one for pacifism. In addition, I wonder what they do for deodorant?
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beechrose

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Re: The Amish as a model?
« Reply #14 on: June 24, 2008, 12:00:52 pm »

Hee! They make wonderful soaps, so I imagine they've figured something out ;)
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