I recently visited Lancaster, Pennsylvania and encountered the Amish face to face. It was a great experience.
First I must admit that I admire anyone who acts in accordance with their beliefs. I also find many things to admire about the Amish in general. Their environmental stance, their support of community, the hard-working and humble nature. I find it interesting to consider how their values lead to some advantages and disadvantages to the values society holds at large. Finally, it seems that their choices do not harm them in the ways that you might think they do.
For example, I saw babies in buggies being held by their family instead of in “safe” car seats. Well it turns out that even though babies are more at risk in some things, they are less at risk at others. So Amish babies who don’t use the newest technologies are no more likely to die than babies who have the newest technology. Also the life expectancy for Amish men/women is the same as non amish people. They have lower rates of cancer and heart problems that many studies have established.
Part of this can of course be explained by their exercise and diet. The other part has to do with their stress and family ties. Research shows that people in relationships live longer than those who are single.
As I was writing this story I was talking with someone who visited the Amish. He shared how his friends small car broke down on the side of the road. An amish man asked if they needed help and he towed their small car to his horse and buggy to his town. Then in town the Amish people fixed his car and when he tried to pay they wouldn’t accept payment. They said that anyone who comes through their town is “family.” How touching.
That is the spirit I felt when I was briefly with them. They may not have had much material things to share, but they were willing to help and friendly. What more can you ask of anyone?