Re: Amish and Stupid comments (fwd)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 6 Jan 1997 10:11:11 EDT
From: E. Ann Clark, Associate Professor <ACLARK@crop.uoguelph.ca>
To: sanet-mg@amani.ces.ncsu.edu, Vaughan Jones <jonesv@wave.co.nz>
Subject: Re: Amish and Stupid comments

Permit me to agree - as usual - with Vaughn Jones and others who have 
been offended by the tenor of these comments.  When I initially read 
them, I was upset to think that someone would find humor in them, but 
didn't take time to respond.  Now, with a new year and a fresh start 
in our hands, I'd like to encourage people to see the merit in the 
traditional wisdom, respect for human dignity,  and enormous ingenuity 
of the Amish, Mennonite,  Hutterite, and other communities that have 
declined to embrace - for whatever reason - the attitudes and 
approaches of their contemporaries - in agriculture and in life in 

Those of you who participate in GRAZE-L will be familiar with the 
admiring comments of my (virtual) friend F.W. Owen about the Amish of 
Homerville, Ohio.  This is not a man who gives away his admiration 
easily, and he doesn't suffer fools gladly.  He has taken time to write out 
some of the things that he has seen on the farms of his neighbors who are 
Amish, and to share them with us on GRAZE-L.  

For myself, I lived for a time in Alberta and came to respect the 
Hutterite peoples there.  They are often the very best farmers on the 
area, with the very latest in equipment and farm practices.  Unlike 
the Amish and Mennonite, they willingly use tractors and electricity, 
but their stewardship ethic is similar.  

When I spoke this past spring in Michigan, I was astounded to see 
perhaps 20 Mennonite couples in attendence - out of an audience of 
perhaps 450.  They were all modestly attired in black, and tended to 
sit together in 1 or 2 rows, but would speak to the "others" (us) in 
both casual and professional conversation.  What struck me, as an 
outsider, was the profound level of mutual respect that was apparent 
between the husband and wife in each couple.  This came across in 
many subtle ways, as they would quietly converse about something on 
the screen or during coffee breaks.  The body language implicit in 
their interactions was in stark contrast to my ill-informed 
presumption of a harshly patriarchical society.  Their gentle, 
respectful tone when conversing with me and others is also a strong 
memory of that conference.  

In sum, while I am not of their religion, and have little personal 
contact with the Amish, Mennonite, or other communities that live 
apart from "us" - and while I do not doubt that there are aspects of 
their culture which I would find insupportable - I nonetheless value, 
even treasure, the contacts that I have had with them.  They and 
their way of life are a valuable resource to agriculture and to the 
environment.  Ann

Dr. E. Ann Clark
Associate Professor
Crop Science
University of Guelph
Guelph, ON  N1G 2W1
Phone:  519-824-4120 Ext. 2508
FAX:  519 763-8933