Monday, November 28, 2005

The Simple Life

After four years of college, two years of grad school, and a year plus extra of miscellaneous activities, I decided I’m going to live in America like I am a visitor. That’s right. I have to do something to make myself believe that every time I tell people, ‘yes, I plan to go back’, that I mean it. So, although I am nowhere near planning my trip back home, I am very much in the position to live up my tourist expectations. America, here I come.

My first trip was supposed to be to a Native American community (I figured I’d start with the real America), but I found out most Native Americans in this area have moved to Arizona. So, when my friend in Philly suggested that we visit Pennsylvania Dutch Country one Saturday, I was more than ready to take up the idea – only to find that my very dear friend, in her Africannnes, changed plans on me last minute. To make up for the disappointment, American style, I took off for my 3-day vacation to Amish land by myself. Well, I think I’m going to be here for 2 days, and a little bit of reflection and introverted moments never hurt anybody.

So what has come from my past day of contemplation – how can the Amish be satisfied with stagnation of human growth (Intellectual growth, that is)? On my drive down here I was wondering how we can justify the need for change and ‘modernization’ for the third world. Why is education necessarily ‘better’? If alternative means of farming other than dependency on seasonal rainfall can be developed, why is the are the worries of an Ethiopian farmer worse than the frustration I get from my cell phone breaking down? Why is does better have to be complicated?

Well, what I have found out so far is that their life has not really stagnated as writings about the Amsih would have one believe. The architecture of their buildings is no different than middle class America. Their furniture is definitely of much better quality than the furniture store near my apartment (at least what they have for sale for ‘outsiders’). They won’t own cars, but they’ll take rides. They cannot buy electricity, but they can generate it (oh, and they seems quite comfortable making use of hydropower and wind energy – its not rampant, but it’s there). At worst the Amish are taking a free ride on efforts by the rest of humanity, accepting what they need and rejecting the evils that facilitated the invention of their necessities. At best, the Amish are a living example of the excess humanity can shed ( I drove up here with my digital camera, iPod and accessories, and laptop which I powered up on my drive down so I could recharge my iPod, my cell phone, and of course, my car – surely I don’t need all this)

To be continued ....

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