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Friday, December 23, 2011

Taking a Slice from the Amish

On the first day of my end-of-the-year vacation, I joined my wife for final holiday shopping errands. To fortify ourselves before wading into the fray, we had a hearty breakfast at the Pennsylvania Dutch Amish Farmer's Market on Route 27 in Princeton. The small counter service café serves simple comfort food with fresh ingredients. Surrounding the café and offered for sale is a bountiful mix of fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, poultry (even goose!) and fish, baked goods still warm from the oven, as well as jarred traditional favorites like apple butter and beet eggs.

As I was waiting for our food to be ready, I gawked tourist-like at the always-exotic Amish, with the women all wearing the same plain dresses and headpieces, the men in the simple solid shirts, suspenders and Abe Lincoln beards. I marveled at their industry, efficiency and sincere friendliness. And also reflexively judged their obvious sexism, lock-step conformity, and outdated worldview.

After my wife finished her excellent breakfast sandwich and I had devoured my "meat lover's omelet" ( Bacon, ham, sausage and cheese wrapped in three fresh eggs) ----and contemplated that, like a boa constrictor that had just swallowed a wild boar piglet, I would be digesting it for months--- the only thing that ruined our contentment was the loud, in-your-face preaching by some Amish minister about the following:

That same-sex marriage is destroying the traditional family and undermines traditional marriage

That abortion should be a felony enforced by prosecution of the doctor, the pregnant woman, and the guy who drove the cab that brought the woman to the clinic (but not the father)

That a moment of Amish prayer, accompanied by a slice of shoo-fly pie, should be mandatory in public schools

Yes, of course I'm joking.

What I admire most about the Amish is that, despite living a lifestyle that makes the average middle-class suburbanite look like Caligula, and while likely somewhat agreeing with the moral principles encompassed in the above "preaching", you would never know directly from them. They live their life as they choose ("choose" being key -- the fascinating tradition of rumspringa, in which on their 18th birthday Amish youth are permitted to leave the community and sample the outside world e.g. booze, drugs, sex so that, when they take their vows to the community, they know what they are giving up, and my understanding is most of them choose to come back) and don't seek to convert the world to their point of view. They come to the farmer’s market, engage in friendly commerce with outsiders, and at the end of the day return to their private, simple, freely chosen lives.

To me, this is the most American way to live.

Happy Holidays

Please check out the Farmer's Market

blog by David Snyder

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