The Lessons of the Amish

According to first-hand accounts, the somber scene at the funerals for the murdered girls in Georgetown, Pennsylvania was deafening in its silence, save for the sound of hooves on pavement and weeping.

While most of us sit around and try to figure out “why this happened,” the Amish pray, forgive, and pray some more — something too few of us do when things turn tragic, let alone when things are going well.

For much of the country, everything we know about the Amish we learned from the Harrison Ford movie “Witness.” We know they get up early, work hard, work by hand, go to worship a lot, and help each other build barns. That’s all we’re aware of, but there’s more to it.

Not many miles north of where I sit at this moment is a rather large Amish community in a rural area of Michigan. For me, the personal exposure I’ve had to the Amish is isolated to drives through this area, where one must be on the lookout for roadside buggies — for which the only thing standing between them and becoming a high-speed big-rig induced bonnet stain on the road is a small orange triangle on the back that cries out “please go around us and be careful.”

In the big picture, that’s all the Amish are asking the rest of the world to do: just slow down a bit and go around. I respect this wish. It’s pretty close to my personal Libertarian-style philosophy of “live and let live.” It seems like such an honest and pure life, yet complex in its simplicity. But for a few deal-breakers (noticeable absence of ESPN, no Bose sound systems, never a cocktail hour and a total lack of recognition that the military they refuse to participate in or support is the reason they’re free to not support it), I’d consider the lifestyle.

The Amish pay income and sales taxes (you can’t escape the IRS, especially in a buggy), but self-employed Amish people don’t pay Social Security taxes if they work within their self-sufficient communities. This is only fair, as they won’t accept Social Security or welfare. They believe accepting this would be admitting that they’re “not taking care of their own.” Oh to long for the days of personal responsibility.

Agree with their way or not, the Amish appear to have life figured out, having discovered that the key to true personal and familial happiness and community harmony is the willingness to suppress the natural desire most of us have to evolve our way out of an already optimal situation.

But then, worlds collide on occasion. Like the orange triangles that ask motorists to be careful, they often find that sometimes people don’t respect the sign, slow down, and go around. There are often accidents when motorists not paying attention collide with an Amish buggy.

In Pennsylvania, there was a violent collision as well, and it was no accident.

The “English” have a term, “put your money where your mouth is.” If this was applied to the Amish community during this tragedy, they have done exactly that.

It would have been easy for the Amish to use this as an opportunity to rub violent tendencies of our “normal” culture, vast segments of which have run away from God like Paris Hilton from an algebra test, right in our faces. But this will not happen. There will be no Amish Michael Moore making a “Bowling For One-Room-Schoolhouse” style film. There will be no Amish lobby testifying on Capitol Hill, demanding the repeal of the 2nd Amendment. They, true to their teachings, will continue to pray, forgive, pray some more, and get back to work. In other words, leading by example.

This may seem patient and tolerant to the point of insanity to some of us. After all, where’s the justice? The fact is, there can be none. The girls are dead because of a madman, and so is the madman. But we can pledge to start doing something to avoid future similar tragedies.

The world has yet to see, to my knowledge, an Amish person mow down innocent school children in a fit of crazed rage. This has to with the fact that the Amish worship more than just God — they worship, collectively, their families, honesty and the value of a hard day’s work. It has little or nothing to do with the legality, or lack thereof, of guns.

As values go, we should all live a little more Amish. Maybe, just maybe, we’d breed fewer and fewer people like Charles Carl Roberts IV.


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Author: Doug Powers

Doug Powers is a writer, editor and commentator covering news of the day from a conservative viewpoint with an occasional shot of irreverence and a chaser of snark. Townhall Media writer/editor. alum. Bowling novice. Long-suffering Detroit Lions fan. Contact: