Technology And The Amish – A Marriage Of Convenience?
However difficult we may perceive life to be without the convenience of modern technology we are so used to, it is not entirely impossible. Take the Amish- they willingly shun all forms of modern technology, interpreting it as an invasion into their traditional life.
Can you imagine a life without the telephone? Or without electricity, or heated water in winters and the cooling influence of an AC in summers? Difficult, if not impossible. Yet there is a traditional society which shuns the use of these very symbols of a modern world and stick to their beliefs of simple living and high thinking. Living in the midst of the chaos of the modern world, the Amish clan presents a calm ‘No, thank you, but we are doing just fine’ rebuff to the comforts of modern technology.
The reason why the Amish shun technology lies in their religious beliefs. Known to lead a reclusive lifestyle due to their religious restrictions, the Amish are an ascetic, reclusive group of people who try and keep their distance from the trappings of modern life. Not that technology would make their life less comfortable, but mainly it is seen as an affront to well established traditions and a simple and rugged life.
Take the use of the telephone. The small little instrument is a symbol of the progress man has made in the field of communications over the past centuries. The shunning could well be a result of the belief that widespread use of the telephone will lead to outside influences creeping in, and hence spoil the purity of their culture. The society, however, does not prohibit the use of modern technology where it becomes essential- for instance, calls may be made and received for business purposes, but only if made from a booth outside the home. The idea being to avoid its influence on the traditional household lifestyle, it is not allowed inside the home.
Another reason for the shunning of technology is the perceived differences it is likely to bring within the society. While current following of traditional beliefs results in a nearly equal society, the adoption of modern technology and its derivatives is bound to create different income levels, which would further lead to competition and the will to outdo the other. Both aspects are against the very essence of the movement, which has an equal society as its foundation.
Where technology does not preclude contact with the outside world, it may sometimes be used. Thus you are unlikely to find a television due to its perceived corrupting influence, but in a curious adaptation to the need of the day, some electric machines may be used, provided, firstly, they do not depend on outside electricity, and secondly, have a human element attached to it. An electric grass mover may be used, for instance, but only if it is to be pulled along by a human. Similarly, a wood carving machine may be used to make the basic structure of Amish furniture, but the final finish would still have to be done by the carpenter’s hand.
The simplicity would have to be retained, and you are unlikely to find too flashy a design in Amish handcrafted furniture. Tradition is of essence here, and it may take days to make a single piece, yet technology will only be used where it does not interfere with the cultural requirements. Even then, you can be reasonably sure that whatever the quantum of electricity used, the timber for the Amish made furniture has probably been cut on a diesel run generator rather than the regular supply!
Though it may not be the ideal way to live for most tech junkies, the Amish way of life does offer a few lessons in simple living. Talk to an Amish gentleman or a lady, and you will find a person unhindered by the shackles of modern trappings, happy in the simplicity of his or her life.
The author is an expert in home improvement techniques. You can buy long-lasting Amish Oak furniture for your home and office. For good deals on Amish furniture visit wholesale Amish furniture dealers.