How "Amish" Are You?

Many people are surprised to discover that the Amish use more “technology” than many people think they do. It’s not that something new or modern is necessarily bad, but rather that the Amish try and determine what impact the new technology will have. Will the technology have a beneficial impact? Will it reinforce or work against values and traditions? Whether something is trendy, convenient, or entertaining matters much less than what the overall impact will be on the individual, family and community.

With the proliferation of new technologies, seemingly on a daily basis, many of us don’t have time to think of the ramifications of their usage. We adopt them and sometimes pay the price later. More consumers, and parents in particular, have found it important to limit the impact of new technologies and the media. A good example is the internet, a wonderful new technology with so many helpful and educational features, yet with a dark side that often requires filtering, adult supervision, or limits on the number of “surfing” hours.

Some writers have coined the phrase “neo-Amish” to describe many Americans who, like the Amish, have decided to either limit the use of certain technologies, or shun them altogether. (How many of us really need the option of over 200 TV channels to choose from?) While some of us are caught up in buying the newest and the latest, others are feeling overwhelmed by the constant commercial bombardment to purchase this or that.

So, “How Amish are you?” It should come as no surprise that you might share some of the same concerns that Amish parents do. Most of us reach a point where we “draw the line.” Where that line is drawn says a lot about our values and what is really important to us.

But some visitors to Amish Country voice concern about the things they believe Amish children are “deprived of,” such as a high school or college education, or more modern career paths. Of course, some Amish voice concerns about the problems and negative impact on “the world’s children,” some of whom seem to be “deprived of nothing.”

One Amish writer talks about how the TV is often used as a baby-sitter in modern American families. That simply cannot be the case in an Amish home…. “In our way of life children are useful, needed, wanted. They help with the work around the farm and do household chores, learning to be useful at a young age. Instead of sighing with relief when the school term begins in the fall and groaning when it lets out in the spring, Amish parents react in reverse… We have all heard again and again the saying that ‘Children are the only treasures on earth we can take with us to heaven.’ ”

In reality, there are problems and imperfections in BOTH worlds. From abuse to drug problems, the Amish are not immune to the ills of the world around them. Nevertheless, the following quote is a good summation of the Amish “ideal” of the family…

“It needs to work together, visit friends together, read together, plan things together, eat together, share their joy and sorrows, hopes and disappointments --- in short, live together.”

Amish Country News Publisher's Message by Brad Igou (2004)


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