Wednesday, March 24, 2010


How do the Amish fit in and work with their host society. All the important issues that arise from the relationship between the Amish and the non-Amish will hinge on the level or degree of participation, or lack there of, from the Amish with their host society.

No one is giving any thought to how the Amish position in society will ultimately play out, or even paying attention to the issues that come up. For example, our judicial system functions in this space of opposing or dueling presentations of prosecution and defense. The Amish, except for an occasional diversion, don't participate in those presentations. They don't defend themselves and neither do they prosecute. What will be the effect of this lack of participation?

The Nickel Mines school shooting is an incidence where in the non-Amish situations, (ie; Columbine, Virginia Tech) an independent review always took place. The kind of review that's played out in court under oath. None of that happened after the Nickel Mines shooting. Even though there's evidence that contradicts the narrative given by the police.

Here's an excerpt from;
"The Happening, Nickel Mines School Tragedy" by Harvey Yoder

How did I know he was going to shoot? I just felt it. That and because of all the racket outside,We heard a pounding on the double doors in the back. Something
strong was being used! Would they rescue us? Then the shooting started.

(end quote)

I've contacted Mr. Yoder and asked him about the above quote from his book, he stands behind it as being an accurate portrayal. He added that "the police were breaking in when the gunman started shooting".

I've also attended a public meeting in which Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Jeffrey Miller was asked specifically about the "pounding on the door" in Yoder's portrayal and he denied that it happened, saying that all the officers were positioned behind the established perimeter when the shooter opened fire.

If the victims at Nickel Mines would've had non-Amish parents, there would've been an investigation. I can't get it out of my head that what happened at Nickel Mines is a classic scenario of the police getting to close. What if they were way beyond just getting too close but were actually breaking in before the shooter opened fire? Is there a parent anywhere in the world who would want the police pounding on the door of the room where their child was being held hostage by a disturbed gunman? The answer is, of course not, and if this circumstance would've happened to non-Amish parents a lawyer would be on this like flies on poop! Ultimately it doesn't matter what I think and it's even partly a nonissue of exactly what did happen. The problem is that the process by which our society maintains itself is missing.

Isn't it possible that things just went horribly wrong and if so, isn't it in our best interest to know that? What if the authoritarian nature of both the Amish and the police contributed to a lapse in adhering to protocol by the police? What if the police responding to Nickel Mines were already influenced from prior experience that when they're dealing with the Amish they're not going to be held to the same standards as they are when they're on a non-Amish call?
Exposure to nontraditional work environments has elicited a more assertive mind set among some Amish. Is it so hard to imagine that when the police arrived there were some Amish men present who were chomping at the bit to have this situation resolved? Add to this the fact that the Amish knew the perpetrator. I recall listening to many a tale, told by Amish farmer aquaintainces, of some hassle they were having with their milk truck driver. Apparently there are high turnover issues with drivers, which heighten tensions over what clean up is expected from the driver at pick up and disputes over whether Sunday pick ups are acceptable. My experience is that the Amish are very hierarchal, particularly in their relationships. So about the time that the police showed up I'm guessing it was high time to put the milk man in his place.

What if this is what really happened? It would put the whole forgiveness business in a different light. Actually it would make the instant forgiveness make more sense. The realization that may have been overwhelmingly obvious to those present, that confrontation was inextricably linked to the outcome, would inherently remind the Amish of what their faith asks of them! If they in fact contributed to an overly aggressive response by the police and the resulting response it evoked from the shooter, would surely have reminded them of the commandment to "love thine enemy".
Given the mind boggling horror of the situation, I don't doubt that they reached for forgiveness, and fervently so, it's the only thing they had left at that point. Under this scenario, forgiveness of self could be extremely elusive, and given the enormity of the task at hand, they did what any diligent worker does, they got started.

My hypothesis portrays what can only be defined as an epic failure on the parts of both the Amish and the police. Consider for a moment how grotesque the failure of the media was if my portrayal has any validity. Where would that leave us? If an incident of such magnitude as this one can be so distorted and misread, and no one blinks an eye, then what is real in this relationship between the Amish and the non-Amish? If this event did occur in the manner I portray here and the resulting failure of perception isn't corrected and exposed, what manner of shenanigans will flourish in the resulting vacuum of reality?

The axis of social cohesion upon which western culture turns is centered on a poking and prodding of what is real, or at least the quest for what is real. There are always vested interests in having reality defined in one way or another, but western culture has the luxury of being established in such a way, that there is always someone testing the veracity of those claims. What will be the result of a suspension of this protocol for how western culture functions, being exhibited by the Amish in this example?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Are the Amish a dying culture?

Using the methods and standards of anthropology, how would the Amish hold up when compared to societies that are considered to be in decline? Are they preserving their language? I would say they aren't. Are they telling their own story? Again, my judgement says they aren't. Can they as a society respond to the issues and challenges that they face? I would again say they're failing in that regard.

There isn't an Amish entity that is minding the store with regards to language. For example there isn't an Amish word for computer. They just use the English term. No one is keeping an eye on usage and regional differences when compared to the process that occurs with the English language. Precise definitions aren't being honed and preserved. What happens is that the language becomes very passive.

I would venture that 95% of the writing done on the Amish is done by non-Amish authors and that writing ends up being more about the authors own culture rather than about the Amish. This results in the Amish identity being defined by someone else.

Amish faith teaches that they're supposed to see themselves as being like "strangers in a foreign land" with regards to their relationship with their host society. The issue of puppy mills and the way the Amish handle it is such a grotesque violation of what their faith asks of them in this case, that I would conclude that they're unable to govern themselves in such a way as to live up to their own values. The Amish can dictate the most minute detail of their adherents lives and yet in this case they're impotent to effect a solution. Usually the Amish try to fly under the radar of any controversy unless it directly effects their religious convictions. Just what in gods name do puppy mills have to do with their faith?