Reflecting on the Amish and my own practices

Jun 24th, 2014 | By | Category: Blog

As college students, I think that we often forget that although we live up in our community on the hill, we still belong to the larger Middlebury township when we are there and also to Addison County. We tend to only engage outside of our campus when we seek something that the College does not provide. Although some people believe that “good fences make good neighbors,” that perhaps neighbors should not be involved in one another’s business, I grew up in a neighborhood that operated as a large family unit and I found it to be far more pleasant and conducive to a happy community. Remaining on campus is far easier and more convenient than interacting with a community beyond its boundaries, and although we are guests rather than residents, we should make a bigger effort to be a part of the community rather than “those college kids.”


I certainly count myself guilty in abusing Vermont’s natural and cultural resources. I have not been a good guest. However, it seems that during this program we have all made a greater effort to practice what we preach as well as what our teachers preach. Our participation in the FoodWorks program is evidence that each of us believes in what we discuss and wish to be a part of the progress. We must remember, though that when the summer ends, the work must continue. We cannot be content with the thought that progress will probably puff along without us, or the work done this summer is lost. To continue the work is hard and inconvenient.


On the morning of our fifth day we discussed convenience and how convenience has made us lazy and spoiled as a culture, and consequently allergic to anything that should seem to put us out – cooking with local veggies, paying a little more for local things (food, culture, music, art), paying for a movie ticket, having tough conversations, farming for small scale, etc. “Convenience” reappeared several times throughout the day’s discussions. Nothing that the Amish do is convenient. The Amish are a people understand the allure of convenience, for their values and rules are strict. If a member of the community does not respect the values and practices, they may no longer be a part of the community. The focus is on the sustainability and regeneration of a healthy and rather focused community. Amish people work to provide for themselves and their community. Indeed, they provide for non-Amish people as well, but we are not their first priority.


We should not be the Amish’s first priority. The first rule that a first responder follows when he enters a scene is to make sure that he is safe. If he is not safe, how can he help someone who is in danger? So, how can a small community safely help a larger community when it is at risk? How can we go to other communities and provide aid when problems exist in our own neighborhoods? More relevant – is it safe for a community in rural Missouri to produce enormous amounts of soybeans to provide the nation when there does not exist any edible food besides those soybeans for 30 miles?


All that said…should I have stayed closer to home for college? Am I able to fully engage in my hometown community and the Middlebury community?

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