Amish People

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  • Topic: Amish, Amish school shooting, Shunning
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  • Published : December 4, 2006
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United States of America and The Amish: Mainstream Culture and The Minority

What does it mean to be Amish? They dress different and their lifestyle is different, but is that the only difference between the Amish and the people of the mainstream American culture? America's 150,000 member Amish minority, which is situated throughout the U.S. mainly in Indiana, Ohio, and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, has been one of the most successful among the nation's religious and ethnic groups in opposing change and in saving the social integration of their small communities. The Amish minority is a society that differs from its mainstream American culture and portrays how the mainstream culture reflects the minority's needs.

The Amish are a very remarkable minority in that their culture is very peculiar, especially to the people of the mainstream culture. One incident, which acts as a very good example of the previously mentioned point, occurred a couple years ago: fifty-two Americans decided to visit the Holmes County and hired an Amishman to answer some of their questions about the Amish culture. The first question, of course, was, "What does it mean to be Amish?" The Amish man, Monroe L. Beachy, did not really have an explanation as to what it really means to be Amish, so he decided to ask a question of his own. "How many of you have TV in your homes?" Fifty-two hands went up. "Now, how many of you feel that perhaps you would be better off without TV in your homes?" Again, fifty-two hands went up. "All right. Now, how many of you are going to go home and get rid of your TV?" Not one hand went up! As a conclusion, and an overall answer to the question, he stated: "As a church, if we see or experience something that is not good for us spiritually, we will discipline ourselves to do without. The world in general does not know what it is to do without" (Beachy). The Amish people try to preserve the lifestyle and traditions of late 17th century Christianity. They choose to live in rural areas, and keep themselves isolated from the ways of modern society found in the mainstream lifestyle, such as electricity, phones, television, computers, and modern technology and thought. As a result, many Americans tend to believe that the Amish are just a big group of people who are trapped in the olden days. However, the mainstream culture tends to forget that the simple way of life is a main part of Amish culture, along with interdependent, God-centered, family life.

Education is of utmost importance to the Amish in preserving their cherished way of life. Education starts in the home as children learn the roles of men and women, respectively, from their parents and siblings. Parents as well as teachers teach obedience with consistency and by example, they do not discipline heavily as they do not want children obeying because they are afraid. They are taught kindness, humility, and to treat others as they wish to be treated. The child is never thanked for doing what is expected of him, as this may suggest an independent thought for the child. American children are often taught competition, assertiveness, and individuality at a young age because these are qualities which are considered necessary for success in society in later life. It is not to be said that children are not taught the same positive values as the Amish children in American families, but not all children are receiving the same moral education as is true in Amish culture(Hostetler 177-179). In schools children sing hymns and pray, as the laws regulating separation of church and state in America do not apply to Amish schools. American laws have allowed these schools to be built and run completely by chosen members of the Amish community, while they do remain under the state laws which regulate fire and health codes. Children are taught that good work is to help each other and to always work diligently to do better than before. The ideas of...
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