A week ago I watched a video “The Amish: A People of Preservation” on Netflix Streaming. I found it interesting that this group of people are living in the US but adhering to an additional strict code of life to the laws of the US. They are choosing to limit, restrict, and control so much of their lives with their code: The “Ordnung” (German for “order”). From one perspective it sounds terrible – not the kind of thing I would find appealing. But they do it for a reason – to preserve a way of life that they find meaningful.
Are there things that we enjoy, but that might result in a better life if we gave them up?
I was reminded of this video tonight by an NPR story that touched on life in small Appalachian communities in the 60s where there was no electricity. How after dinner, neighbors would entertain each other with singing and riddles – rather then have television or whatever entertain them.
In writing this, I’m reminded of a strange thought that I had while travelling in India. Life there for so many people was incredibly difficult. They were struggling for life. But in a way their lives seemed more noble, their day to day actions were to stay alive – and to support their community. But I’m sure they would like an easier life – and I hope they can attain that.
However, I found it sad in reflection, in comparison, to look at what we have achieved in the US and other wealthy countries. People use their wealth and wealth of time on distraction – terrible television, mindless games (also wonderful television and awesome games, to be fair). Its just kind of weird. Is this the goal?
Child labor is often portrayed as this horrible aspect of the developing world (and it can be, sometimes), but it can also be a simple, fun, community activity that has purpose. They made this point in the Amish film too. How children quickly learn how to do all of the things that the adults can do that sustain their life – and quickly get the responsibility as well.
I know much of this is romanticized. But it’s something to think about. What is meaningful in your life?