Monday, November 13, 2017

Are the Amish right about new technology?

Back in the 80s Mother Jones (or Earth?  I don't quite remember) ran a similar article about the Amish.  Many Amish back then had refrigerators powered by propane. But the main thing was their extreme (if it's even possible) adherence to Community.  It wasn't that all modern technology was shunned.  IT was that the acceptance of technology was thought out and methodical.

It's good to see that not a lot has changed.

“Amish lives are anything but anti-technological,” he writes. Visiting Amish communities, he found battery-powered radios, computer-controlled milling machines, solar panels, chemical fertilisers and GM crops. What distinguishes the Amish stance toward any given invention isn’t that they reject it outright; it’s that they start by assuming they don’t want or need it, then adopt it only if they decide it’s in line with their values.
Generally, these days, “our default is set to say ‘yes’ to new things,” Kelly notes, whereas for the Amish “the default is set to ‘no’”. Thus cars don’t make the cut, because they encourage people to wander far away, instead of building community close to home. But laptops and smartphones are fine, for some Amish, in certain workplace contexts – though never at home – because the benefits are deemed to outweigh the downsides.
Then and now, I've always thought there was something we could learn from them.

Ah!  I found the article online!  Just remember, this article was written in 1989:
The Amish are the answer to a question, I realized... 
What was the question? Ah, that's what I still had to figure out.
Still, their home isn't as stark as it may sound. It holds many modern conveniences: a propane (and therefore wonderfully silent) refrigerator, white-gas reading lights, indoor plumbing with hot and cold running water—even a basement washing machine powered by a small Honda lawn-mower engine. ("The women love the little Hondas," Amos said. "They're so easy to start.") So the family has many basic conveniences normally provided by electricity.

Likewise, when they want to make a phone call, they can walk down the road to a shared neighborhood phone (kept in a locked homebuilt booth). If they need to get somewhere a good distance away, they can hire a car and driver to take them there.



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