What is it about the Amish that fascinates us so? Their lifestyle supports a massive tourist industry. They’ve inspired movies, have experienced public tragedies and scandals, and have spawned a crop of reality shows which should all have been entitled “Amish Gone Wild.” And we can’t seem to get enough.
I can only speak for myself, of course, but I’ve always been intrigued by that surface tension that exists between the Amish and the outside world. There must be an intense amount of pressure, maintaining a societal and cultural remove from the people that surround you. It must be like being in a bubble deep under water. One little pop and all that water will rush in.
The Amish can’t possibly be as blind to the world as they would have us believe. They must hear music blasting out of cars as they drive by. They have to hear snippets of news while selling their produce at the market. They can’t possibly avoid billboards, and must see people talking on cell phones. They’ve got to see televisions flickering through people’s windows as they drive past in their buggies. It has to be a full time job, just stuffing your curiosity. If I couldn’t ask questions and learn new things and have new experiences, I’d self-destruct.
Do those of us in the outside world live perfect lives? Not by a long shot. But I know I could never thrive in a community where everything I wear and do and eat and say is strictly regulated, where being the slightest bit unique is frowned upon, and where my very dreams and aspirations must fit within a very narrow field of acceptability. I couldn’t live under the constant pressure that if I were to screw up even once, everyone I loved would be forced to turn their backs on me.
So what captivates me about the Amish is the same thing that makes me slow down to look at a traffic accident. I want to see if and how anyone could possibly survive.
[image credit: amishamerica.com]