Mennonite-Amish Culture in the Pen-Mar Highlands, page 12
assistance from his family, has to work longer hours. His goal is monetary profit. The Amish does not make monetary gain his main objective. He endeavors to cultivate his farm with as little outside and machine help as possible—and with as little financing as possible. He is relaxed. He does not worry about installment paying etc. He is concerned in the proper cultivation of his family, his land and his religion. This is the secret of his prosperity. He is the irrevocable American peasant. Peasants throughout the world have the same feeling, the same purpose for the land. They live on the land because it is primarily a way of life—not a way of making money. There is a basic opposition between the exploitive use of nature and that of conservation. The Mennonite-Amish culture is that of conservation.
Here are some excerpts from an essay entitled "Utopia in Pennsylvania—The Amish".10
"They are reputed to be the best farmers in America. The Amishman is actually a farmer, not a manufacturer like our large-scale single crop producers. Nor is he a political farmer of the kind whose perennial sorrows lie so close to the heart of Henry Wallace. His produce goes first to feed his family and livestock. If any be left over he takes it to a nearby market.
I suspect you might have to go a long way to find a can opener in an Amish household. For the Amishman the idea of paying out good money for canned foodstuffs far inferior to what one can raise oneself is one of those things that simply will not bear thinking about. He needs hardly any money and lets it go at that. By sticking to this general policy for a couple of centuries the Amish have worked themselves into an economic position that is pretty nearly impregnable. They have the real thing in social security.
(Note: "Amish mutual aid provides social security for its members from birth to death. Security comes from friendly personal relations, from father and mother, brother and sister, uncle and aunt, and church members; not from impersonal and remote sources, such as investment bonds, state security or welfare boards.") 11
No Amishman's name is ever found on a relief roll, or any record in a court house involved in some litigation, except when persecuted by a state when refusing to obey its laws regarding the education of youth. The Amishman does not waste a single bauble on insurance for he already has the best kind of insurance on which he pays no premium, and his policy never expires. Instances where federal and state governments have bestowed substantial grants of money for some experimental project—these have been refused by the Amish.
The old Amish have the record of sticking longer and more faithfully to the original customs and practices of their religion than any other Christian body in America; and it is this fidelity which has brought them to where they are. The Old Amish believes that the agrarian life is the one most in accord with the Scriptures. This is their fundamental
Felix G. Robinson
10 Snoring As a Fine Art", a series of essays by Albert Jay Nock, published by Richard B. Smith, West Bridge, New Hampshire, 1958, pp. 29-42.
11. Reader's Digest, November, 1962.
Ruth Enlow Library, Oakland
22 x 15 cms
Western Maryland, 1750-1963