Amish Values for Your Family:
What We Can Learn from the Simple Life
By Suzanne Woods Fisher
01 August 2011
The closest I’ve ever gotten to the Amish, or to being Amish (hahaha, yeah right), was living in Lancaster County on the campus of a small liberal arts college for four years while I attended school there. In other words, I haven’t gotten very close. Even though I don’t know much about the Amish (though I probably know more than the average joe), I have admired them because they are truly “in the world, but not of it” and they are most definitely not lukewarm.
As I read Amish Values for Your Family I was thinking about how I could apply some of the lessons to my own life, even though I have no family. Well, I have parents and a sister and brother, and I’m part of a family, but I haven’t created a family for myself with a spouse (and that’s not likely to change). I have no children, and—in case this may be news to you—I don’t even like children. I don’t really like teenagers, either. Hell, I didn’t even like them when I was one, so…
So, anyway, Amish Values is just under 185 pages with chapters of 3-5 pages each. It occurred to me that this might be a good book to read aloud to the family one chapter a night, or something, and think about the lesson and suggestions at the end as a group. There was one lesson that stood out to me. I’ve had problems with financial debt since before college, and the chapter called “Too Much Money” made me scoff at first (“Is it really possible to have too much money?” I asked myself), and then it made me think. Each chapter begins with an Amish Proverb, and this chapter begins with:
Unless there is within us that which is above us, we shall soon yield to that which is about us.
Being in debt for a long time sometimes makes me forget that “money is only a tool, not a goal”. I have to constantly remind myself that long-term happiness is more likely if I’m not a slave to my paycheck, and the only way I won’t be a slave to my paycheck is if I pay off the debt I already owe and stop incurring it. It’s not hopeless, but it was nice to have a reminder that my knee-jerk reaction (“Is it really possible to have too much money?”) isn’t necessarily the healthiest one.
I don’t agree that children are the be-all-end-all of an adult’s existence. I don’t even think children are necessary for an adult’s existence to “be complete”. I also think that the Amish, as portrayed in this book, put more emphasis than I’m comfortable with on obedience to authority. Great things have come out of thoughtful disobedience, after all. But Amish Values for Your Family had lessons for someone like me, too—apparent anarchist that I am—as long as I willing to take the kid stuff with a grain of salt (which I was). This book feels like it’s the kind of thing wherein you get out of it at least what you put into it. With some creative thinking, learning from the Amish is beneficial for all people, not just people with families. It will, at least, help clarify what a reader believes for him- or herself.
DISCLAIMER: I received Amish Values for Your Family free from LitFuse Publicity in return for a review of the book. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Read other reviews and learn more about the book on the blog tour’s main page.