By Mohamed El Hassan Abou El Fadel
By Mohamed El Hassan Abou El Fadel
Morocco World News
Inezgane, Morocco, August 5, 2013
There can be plenty of established stereotypes about people of various confessions. Of course, those stereotypes remain anchored as prejudice in the minds of people not belonging to that confession or religion until something comes to challenge their perception and trigger their curiosity to learn things otherwise and learn them right.
Visiting Amish country around Lancaster, Pennsylvania is a great experience in the life of a foreign visitor. I remember going there on a trip organized by the University of Delaware along with other Moroccan colleagues. Our Mennonite tour guide was a very nice, informative and entertaining kind of person. He told us about how modesty and humility are ever present in Amish everyday life. I do not want to indulge in citing many examples of Amish culture and way of life but a few illustrations cannot do any harm to anyone.
Amish people refuse taking part in modern life with its complex technological products and services. They do not wear bright color clothes, drive cars or use electrical devices in their homes. In their religious services as well as in their ordinary life they use an old type of German language called the ‘Pennsylvania Dutch’.
Amish faith orders its followers to work hard, be humble, honest and peace loving. I was talking about prejudice in the beginning of this article, and I think that learning that religion is so central in the life of the Amish would make some readers think that Amish people are completely shut off from the exterior world. That is simply not true.
Their community is open to visitors who are curious about their way of life or are impressed by the good quality of their handicrafts and products. Besides, one can learn in an indirect way that Amish people do have an excellent sense of humor. For instance, one of the entertaining products they sell is a wooden cube with an instruction on its upper side which says: “Go around this cube three times then lift it and read what is hidden”. When you do so and lift the cube you find “Good! You have just taken some exercise around the block!” This is hilarious but the best one in the eyes of most visitors is the pin with the “I love Intercourse” statement.
One would for a moment have second thoughts about the Amish but really no ‘harm’ is intended. Intercourse is a locality where the Amish gather for trade and hence the appellation Intercourse. In the old days this place used to be called Three Keys. The reason why it was changed into Intercourse is not quite apparent. The Amish pin about it remains interesting in more than one respect. It makes you rush headlong into ‘second thoughts’. Only a good and well-informed explanation by an Amish person can bring you back to reason and make you realize how hasty your judgments and conclusions can sometimes be.
The Amish Country trip was wonderful and enlightening. I gained much insight into the culture and tradition of the Amish people. I found out that they are peaceful people who adhere to religious teachings that encourage hard work, value solidarity and prize family and community values of mutual help and care. Because Amish country is open to visitors, lots of stereotypes about them may be dissipated that way. The Amish, I found out are not a secretive society, they are rather people with cherished values they would like to keep and perpetuate. Mutual religious tolerance and acceptance among people are values that humans ought to promote so as to reduce the margin of violence and promote that of peace and stability so as to allow people to lead a much better life.
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