November 12, 2012

TEEN LIFE WAY BACK WHEN: The Amish


These days in America there seems to be a fascination for all things Amish - on television, that is.  For instance, television shows on the Amish have included "Breaking Amish" on TLC, "Amish:Out of Order" on The National Geographic Channel, "The Amish:American Experience" beginning in December on Iowa Public Television and a new series debuting next month on Discovery Channel called "Amish Mafia."

So what does this have to do with our ongoing series here "Teen Life Way Back When"?  Well, it occurred to me that Amish teens today are probably living life the same way they did back in the nineteenth century.  Or, in other words, would living in an Amish community today be like stepping back in time? Yes and no. Yes with respect to social customs, dress, and family life.  No with respect to modern conveniences.

You see, despite the public perception of black buggies pulled by horses and old-fashioned haystacks in the fields, the Amish do use some modern conveniences. It is true that most Amish do not use electricity from the public grid.  But they do use electricity in the form of diesel generators, batteries and solar power. They remain off the public grid in order to prevent worldly influences from entering the home and as a symbolic means of remaining separate from the world.

Although our fascination with the Amish may stem from a desire for a simpler life, if you've watched any of these series you have discovered that Amish families, and teens in particular, still have problems not too dissimilar from our own.

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