This article may anger people as it talks negatively about a group of people who belong to a religious organization. Nowadays, it’s really a no-no to talk poorly about any religion, sometimes even dangerous. Before I mention which religion I am going to offend, I need to tell you that I live in a rural area of Ohio which is a 25 minute drive to the urban city of Cleveland, and in the opposite direction, about 15 minutes to the small community of Middlefield. Middlefield’s national claim to fame is that Jay Leno and David Letterman made jokes about it when Wal-Mart built a new facility there and added numerous posts and stalls to accommodate HORSES. You see, Middlefield and areas near it, is Amish country and Amish will not drive automobiles, they “drive” horses.
Amish are people who belong to Christian religious denominations that form a very traditional sub grouping of Mennonite Churches. There are as many as eight different subgroups of Amish in the US varying in their level of strict compliance to certain strict religious and cultural beliefs. The Amish are known for simple living and reluctance to adopt modern convenience like motor vehicles and high voltage electricity.
There are about 250,000 Amish in the US and Canada with most concentrating in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Amish wear simple clothing almost resembling uniforms. I was always told they were friendly, moral, outstanding craftsman, great workers, fantastic cooks, and non violent people.
Middlefield and the surrounding Amish areas close to me are in Geauga County. According to a CBS investigative report in 2005 the Amish make up only about 10 percent of the population in Geauga County, but they’re half of the special needs cases.
CBS reporter Vicki Mabrey stated that many children have medical conditions so rare, doctors don’t have names for them yet. The report also talked about three sisters who were all born with a condition that has no cure and mysteriously leads to severe mental retardation and a host of physical problems. Last year, doctors figured out the girls have the gene for something called Cohen Syndrome; there are only 100 known cases worldwide. Since then, more than a dozen other cases of Cohen’s have been discovered in Ohio Amish country. Why do these rare disorders occur? In-breeding. The Amish come from such a close knit group going back generations and they rarely venture out into the “other world” thus, they inner breed. The Amish accept these diseases and call it “Gottes Wille” or God’s will”. I call it their will and their closed mindedness! There are tests now that can check a persons genes to determine if these diseases are likely to occur if a couple were to conceive. However, Amish will not take them because as one was quoted as saying “it is not their way”.
Most Amish do not drive automobiles because they feel it brings them to close to the outside world’s trappings and away from their simplicity and community. Everyone else in Geauga County and for that matter everywhere else, drives motor vehicles. And in rural Geauga County, sometimes at speeds around 60 mph. Horse driven buggies and automobiles don’t mix and every year injuries and deaths occur due to collisions between beasts of burden and cold hard steel. I call this Amish custom ridiculous, a menace to the roadway and animal abuse as well. When the Amish travel long distances or have special needs they hire people to drive them in automobiles. Apparently, their closeness to the outside world has limits.
Amish also avoid electricity when it is accessed from outside power lines, again to avoid physical connection to the outside world. Electric generators may be used. Many shun telephones for the same reason but sometimes there is a community telephone booth that many Amish can access as a whole. Again, apparently their avoidance to the outside world has its limits, depending on some human being’s interpretation of right and wrong. Nuts!
Many people tell me Amish are very nice people. I am actually glad I cannot dispute this with any compelling evidence. However, I have lived in the area for 15 years and I’m one of those people who talks to everyone, from fast food clerks to you name it, I talk to them–I like people. 95% of the people I talk to are nice, vibrant, and at minimum, become social as we talk. The times I’ve talked to Amish men and women I was always struck by a seemingly superficial politeness and a lack of genuine care and zest.
I also have heard that Amish are moral people who rarely commit crimes. Tell that to the more than few Amish daughters, granddaughters, and neighbors who have been sexually abused by their own. From child molesters and murderers to drunk drivers (yes in a buggy), the Amish communities have criminals too. How many criminals are amongst the Amish? No one really knows because the Amish like to police themselves and not tell the authorities about such matters. However, it occurs and every now and then a shocking story ends up on the nightly news.
The Amish hide themselves from reality, change, science, and the knowledge that comes from talking and listening to others with differing or new ideas. Without being involved with these things, people stagnate and like rotting food, spoil and contribute very little substantively to their own growth or to the growth of others. They live in a fantasy land no matter how serene the lifestyle seems. Anyone can live a serene and wholesome life without hiding their heads in the sand and consequently, taking their loved ones and themselves into nothing but darkness.
What surprises me is that so many non-Amish or as the Amish sometimes call them, Yankees, feel they are great people living a great lifestyle. In my view, any group that purposely closes their eyes to man’s God given abilities and advances in civilization all in the name of some members interpretation of God’s will, is committing a “sin”. A sin to themselves, their children, others and maybe even God.
Steve's a three-time survivor of violence in his youth and was an award winning police officer.
For several years, Steve also did radio political and current event commentary and taught college Criminal Justice. He is the former host of the long running 'The Kovacs Perspective' Internet radio talk show.
Presently, Steve is the owner and Managing Director of one of the oldest martial art schools in Ohio, 'The Mayfield Academy of Self-Defense'.
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