I've never been an early adopter of technology. "Remember, I'm descended from the Amish." I'll say, "I'm still suspicious of electricity!" Actually, I am descended from the Mennonites (motto: "Amish Lite"). Both the Amish and the Mennonites were in the background of my upbringing. Mennonite farmers sold meats and produce at the local farmer's market. One reason I fail to eat enough fruits and vegetables as an adult is that grocery store produce is bland and tasteless compared to the farm produce I was raised on. When I was a teenager, every week my mother would get up early one day to go to the farmer's market. She'd store perishables in the refrigerator where she worked until it was time to go home. While working two jobs, it was surely no small feat to get up early and out the door in order to get the freshest foods for us. She'll arrive next week with my sister and niece, and my mother will bring some hometown favorite foods for the cast and crew of "Herding Cats".
The Amish, by nature of their lifestyle, were more of a distant background in my childhood, but there they were nonetheless. We often saw horses and buggies while on the way to my grandmother's house. More recently, when I've been able to return home as an adult, my father would take me for a motorcycle ride out into Lancaster County. As incongruous as it seems, there's no scenery more beautiful than riding on a Harley through Amish country on a fine autumn day. We'd wave at the farmers and they'd wave at us. Live and let live was the motto on both sides.
My father (another technophobe) hired a former Amish man to work in the family business. One bad experience with computers caused said computers to be returned immediately and my father went back to calculator, pencil and paper. When he was ready to retire and looking for a billing clerk, the only person who would do the job without a computer was a former Amish man.
My dad told me this true story, but first, a little background info. Like many retirees, my dad and stepmother have a custom van in which they do all their travelling. They're now on Van 2. Van 1 logged hundreds of thousands of miles across the U.S. and Canada. They also like to attend antiques auctions, and although they are not avid collectors, they buy something now and then that fits into their home decor or collections (dad: firearms, stepmother: dolls).
One frigid winter's day, they were driving through Amish country (probaby to or from an antique auction) in Van 1, which was very well appointed. Like it's successor Van 2, Van 1 sported captains chairs, a bench seat in the back, window shades, lights, carpet, and all the comforts of automobile travel. My father came across an Amish family who's horse had been spooked by something and the buggy had overturned in the ditch. My father stopped to assist the man. It was obviously going to take some time to right the buggy, calm the horse and get the family back on the road. The day was bitter cold, and my father well knows the ways of the Amish. However, he offered the Amish man's wife and children haven in the warm, cozy van while he helped the man get the horse and buggy road-ready. The humble Amish stoutly refused my father's offer, even after my stepmother added her own insistence. My father's physical strength always surprises me, and the Amish man and his family were able to continue on their way.
Last week's Amish schoolhouse shooting touches me personally. That a psycho would take out his frustrations on these humble and peaceful people is almost unbelievable.
"Like shooting fish in a barrel" seems a crude but apt metaphor. The last safe haven in America is a target for a nutcase out there with an ax to grind, yet the Amish have resigned to their fate without calls for justice, demonstrations, counter-violence or lawsuit. Surely a lesson for us all.