The Amish Way

“I hang out with the Amish because their adoption of technology seems to us totally crazy because first of all, they’re not Luddites. They’re complete hackers. They love hacking technology. They have something called “Amish electricity,” which is basically pneumatics. A lot of these farms had a big diesel… They don’t have electricity, but they have a big diesel generator in the barn that pumps up this compressor that sends high-pressure air tubes down tubing into their barn into their homes and so they have converted their sewing machine, washing machine to pneumatic.”

“They say, ‘Will this technology allow us to do that? Will it help us do that or will it work against that?’ Right now, they have been deciding whether to accept cell phones or not, even though they don’t have land line phones. Basically, some of them are going to accept cell phones and they do that by there’s always some early Amish adopter who’s trying things and they say, ‘OK Ivan. Bishop says you can…’ He has to get permission. He says, ‘You can try this, but we’re watching you. We’re going to see what effect this has on your family, on your community. You have to be ready to give it up at any time we say that it’s not working,’ and they do this on a parish by parish. It’s very de-centralized. They try it out. Always trying out new technologies and they’re always looking to see, ‘Does this strengthen the families? Does this strengthen the communities? If not, we don’t want it.”

The Amish are firm believers in the Sabbath, a weekly day to relax, step back and reflect. In our electricity filled world we’ve come to call this “unplugging.” That could be from driving if you have a long commute, or Twitter if you send hundreds of tweets during the work week. But this isn’t to say these technologies are negative:

You do that not because it’s terrible or poison, but because it’s so good…It’s like you want to step back so that you can re-enter it and with a renewed perspective, with a renewed appreciation, with having spent time looking at it in a different way. I like that kind of rhythm of having Sabbaths and then yearly vacations, retreats. Then every seven years you take a true sabbatical, I think that kind of rhythmic disconnection or Sabbath I think is very powerful, something that works very well and was something that we had in our family.”

To The Amish

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