The Amish are our neighbors. They value family, community, frugality, resourcefulness, and reliance on all things natural. They are some of the first recyclers whose mantra is to use it up rather than throw it out. Their intent is to nourish the body while feeding the spirit as well.
Today, we can all learn from their down-to-earth homespun ways as we approach Pope Francis’ Laudato Si initiative and creating an action plan for the care of Mother Earth and all its residents.
Whether we learn to intensify our efforts to simplify or continue on sacrificing our resources for future generations is up to us both as a people and as individuals. There is no glory in being the last man standing on the planet, but there is usefulness in getting back to basics and rejoicing in what we can preserve for future generations living on Mother Earth and beyond.
Looking back to look ahead, we may consider some of the characteristics of the Amish and those closely affiliated with them such as the Mennonites and other likeminded religious groups. Faith, Family, Community and Simplicity are the four cornerstones of their lives.
People of Amish and Mennonite faith generally practice:
Pacifism and non-resistance. “Enjoy today, it won’t come back.”
A pure and simple lifestyle without many of the creature comforts. “It takes both sunny and rainy days to make a life complete.”
A dress code that is simple and modest. “The most beautiful attire is a smile.”
Community and commercial support. “A heart touched by grace brings joy to the face.”
No aid or welfare from the government. Thriftiness is practiced in each home. Debt is discouraged. “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without”
Separation of church and state. “A happy home is more than a roof over your head, it’s a foundation under your feet.”
Food sources are garden produce, fresh meats, and dairy products maintaining a close connection to the earth. “God gives us the ingredients for our daily bread, but He expects us to do the baking.”
Food is used to bring people together. “Our duty is not to see through one another but to see one another through.”
Volunteer activities prevail such as quilt making and barn raising. Everyone chips in. “Pride in your work puts joy in your day.”
Wealth is not measured in large bank accounts or earthly treasures. “It’s nice to have money to buy the things that money can buy, but it’s better not to lose the things money cannot buy.”
Work is valued over envy. “If the grass looks greener on the other side, fertilize.”
Some of these principles might not work for everyone, but they may be points to ponder as we move forward in ecological renewal planning and renewal.
Sometimes it is the kernel in the idea that leads us into the future. Nothing is lost that cannot be recycled. It is our job to find the treasure in hiding that will give us new possibilities for our future. It is time to get to work and make 2023 a time for planning and purpose. We are all in this together!