Friday, October 7, 2011

Shocking Amish Violence

What's shocking is not the level of violence, indeed by today's standards it's hardly noteworthy, but the fact that it's happening to America's most gentle and peace loving people, The Amish or Plain People as they call themselves. I really admire them as a community. Through hard work and family values of simplicity and fellowship they've been able to live happy and fulfilled lives generation after generation. Most reject such modern conveniences such as electricity from the grid, telephones and cars. Some families have had to bend to outside pressure in order to make a living such as providing electric cooling systems for the storage tanks in the dairies and indoor bathrooms in some areas too. But by and large they get to live by the rules they want. Using the pto on a tractor to run a thresher but not to plough, or a diesel generator to power other large tools. But by and large they use horse drawn implements and hand tools where practical. Man power is not lacking in the Amish community. Everyone works for the betterment of their own farms and are willing to help with barn raisings and house building for new families or after a fire.

Joining the community is something done as an adult, after a childhood of knowing exactly what you're committing to. And the vast majority of Amish children do choose to join even after a taste of freedom in the 'English' world as they call modern society. Different communities have rules that vary in strictness but disobedience to the will of a community or violence are absolutely shunned by the Amish. This violence from a small group of Amish families who were dissidents in their community and refused to come back into fellowship, was perpetrated on their own parents, siblings and friends, the very people who love them most, in an effort to humiliate and belittle them. For in Amish society married men have beards and women allow their hair to grow long as a sign of humility and obedience to the Old Testament teachings. And yet here we have an insight to human nature. That no matter where you live or how you are raised, you have the free agency to decide what to do with your life and how to behave. It's a sad sad day for the world when some of it's most gentle people are plagued with violence from within their own community. And is a warning to the rest of us that we need to be vigilant and not think that just because we're nice people it couldn't happen where we live too. Strength comes from within ourselves and from the community around us, and I'm thankful for the good friends I have. If society ever crumbles, I'm glad to know that you'll have my back and I'll have yours too.

From the BBC Online, October 7th, 2011.

Beards and hair shorn in Amish-on-Amish attacks

An Amish boy riding a horse
The counties in Ohio where the attacks took place make up one of the largest US Amish communities

Police in the US state of Ohio are investigating a rare violent feud in the Amish community, in which members have had beards and hair shorn off.

A 57-year-old woman in Trumbull County told police her sons and a son-in-law had cut her hair and her husband's beard last month. She claimed the estranged family members were involved in a cult.

The feud is thought to involve 18 Amish families, most of whom are said to be related by blood.

Sheriff Fred Abdalla said some of the suspects had previously come to the attention of police after a threat against him, and a conviction of sexual contact with a minor.

He added that no charges had been brought and the investigation was moving slowly because of Amish reluctance to seek police help.

"You see this crime being committed, and I'm sitting here with my hands tied," the sheriff said. "I can't do a thing."

The attacks have taken place in Carroll, Holmes, Jefferson and Trumbull counties, regions heavily populated by Amish.

Professor Donald Kraybill, an Amish expert at Elizabethtown College, Pennsylvania, told the Associated Press news agency that Amish-on-Amish violence was "extremely rare."

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