If you are interested the values and lifestyle of the nineteenth century, here is a great example: The Amish, is a group of religious people who live in settlements in 22 states and (Ontario), Canada. The roots of the Amish come from Mennonite community, a part of early Anabaptist Movement in Europe, which took place at the time of the Reformation. At that time, this movement were seen as heretical and the members of the movement oppressed and people were cruelly put to death by both Catholics and Protestants.
As a result, of this oppression from larger religious groups and having a different point f view in terms of interpretations of Christianity, the Amish fled to the rural areas and isolated themselves from the others. This separation from the others can be the best answer to why the Amish have insisted on being different from the contemporary world. The Amish continue emphasizing the basic values of the nineteenth century. Their distinctions from other minorities in America are their different beliefs, community structure and their simplistic lifestyles.
Until 1972 the Amish were forced to complete high-school, at which point the supreme court overturned this ruling to allow them to discontinue fter elementary school. Their lack of faith in the American school system was made them to want withdraw their children from school. They feared that U. S. high school would spoil the children’s peaceful, simple tendencies and push them into crime and violence. Instead of public high school they have their own schools, staffed with teachers from Amish backgrounds.
In the words of researcher John Andrew Hosstetler, “The Amish school has generally been successful in preparing young people to be honest, hardworking and conscientious adults, capable of earning a living, raising Christian family, and contributing to the Amish community. ” (29). Most Amish schools today have one room and one teacher for all eight grades, and English is the language of instruction. Unlike the U. S. culture the Amish have their own small communities. They live and die only within this community without mingling with any others. Individuality is of no concern to the Amish.
They become part of a whole community when they are baptized, and remain so until death. The two most important rules of the Amish demand that they are separated from the rest of the world and that they must be obedient to everything the church asks of them. These two rules bring heavy restrictions on them. Their strong ties to family and community limit their interaction and participation in modern American society. They do have to work among people outside of their religions, for example, many in dairy factories, but they do avoid working with any kind of modern electronic machinery.
They fallow the same restrictions at home. For instance, most Amish households do not have a central heating system, but instead heat only the living room. This practice gathers everyone in one room of the house and applies to the importance they give to family and community. Ruth Hoover Seitc states that “Almost all members of the Amish community help each other to build a barn and nothing is prefabricated. The entire structure is built on location. In a single day. ” (99).
They try to stay together and help each other with problems so that interaction with the outside world is minimized. The Amish still insists on rejecting modern technology. For instance, they use gas lamps instead electric lights and they reject using highly sophisticated farming equipment, the Amish prefer horse and cattle. “Kerosene lamps or pressurized lamps are commonly used for general lighting. Ironically, Amish farmers who do not use electricity may have to put with massive power lines cut g through their farms, ” says Merle Good in his book “Who are the Amish? (93). In addition to this the Amish children play with hand-made toys.
From a functionalist perspective it can be said that the Amish are for the most part isolated from American culture. They have their own strict beliefs, their own churches and their own communities. Family structure is more important to them than the role they play in society. Amish people refuse to be slaves of technology in the modern world. Their basic principles in living are simplicity and self-sufficiency, which are also factors in isolating themselves from modern American culture.
The old order Amish gather to worship together, but following a belief left from the years of exile and torture in Europe, where they met in caves and forests, they do not congregate in a church. Instead Amish are separated from the modern Americans who gather and pray in churches, although they have one similarity in that they both study the same holly book, the Bible. Bill Simpson points out that “The Bible remains the central book of the Amish people and hey view the Bible as the guide for faith and life. ” (59). The Amish mostly support themselves with agriculture.
They are very successful at farming, which is their way of living according to their basic value, simplicity. Mark Tompkins writes “The majority of all Amish families earn their living by farming. Corn, tobacco and alfalfa are favorite crops. ” (19). The Amish have little impact on the American economy. Some of them do work in regular jobs, but the majorities are farmers who support their own community rather than contributing to the American society. Stephen Schiff reports that “Amish volunteers help prepare eat to be canned and shipped overseas through Mennonite Central Community.
This worldwide service agency distributes many millions of dollars of aid and service to countries of all political affiliations, ‘in the name of Christ. ’ (73). They sometimes organize auctions that are open to the general public, but this is the only time they interact with others than their own community. The Amish do pay taxes, but they do not receive any social service relief or medical aid. They do not take any kind of assistance from the government because they do not value modern comforts in any way. It could also be said that patriotism, which is an important part of American culture, is not an issue for Amish.
Although they were required to join the army during WWI, they were mostly stationed in offices and medical facilities due to their strict ideas about peace, not harming others and not bearing arms. Willis Thompson and George Hanson, two such Amish people who survived the war and are now living in Olivet Michigan as professors in the local college, refused to take arms during the war. They were as a result put into medical troops to serve out their duties. In this way they ere able to maintain their personal beliefs without jeopardizing the good of the country. Amish as a way of expressing their faith, wear simple clothes.
While the American have been the slaves of clothing daily fashion, the Amish continue to wear their traditional clothes. For example, unlike the mainstream women, Amish women wear modest dresses with long sleeves and full skirts covered with a cape and apron. On their heads, they wear a prayer bonnet; the white one for marrieds, and the black one for singles. Amish women also never use jewelry. This sharp difference in terms of clothes is also seen between Amish men and the mainstream men. Amish men and boys wear dark colored suits, black socks, loose-fitting trousers, solid-colored shirts, and black coats and hats.
Almost all Amish are trilingual. They can speak a regional dialect of German, High German, and English. At home, they use the regional dialect. High German is their worship language. English is only used when they faced with anyone who is not Amish. They use the dialect of Germany, when they speak to each other. In deed as a result of having some tragic experiences, the Amish have preferred to isolate themselves from the modern world. They reject odernity because they think that modernity can destroy their simplicity and solidarity. However, it is not possible to say that the Amish seem stuck in history.
Although they look like they stepped out of the rural nineteenth century, in fact, they change. They definitely are not stuck anywhere. Before accepting new innovations, they examine them carefully. If the innovations do not assist in keeping their simplicity and their togetherness, they probably will reject them. Unfortunately, in order to survive, this unique culture has had to make many compromises. With the advancement of technology and the growth of opulation they are beginning to face many problems, such as the loss of farmland which is so vital to their survival.
Tourism and housing developments have contributed a lot to this problem. The younger Amish generation is showing signs of wanting to the leave the community, which is an act that could have many effects on the next generation of Amish. The chances of survival for the Old Amish Order against the modern U. S. culture are not very strong. Sadly they might give in to the pressure eventually and go with the easy flow of modern society, and this will be the end of a magnificently unique Old World establishment.