Saturday, October 6, 2007

The good (in the) old days

Using cloth diapers isn't new. Neither is hanging clothes out to dry or eating organic food or buying locally. These are things are grandparents or great grandparents did. And maybe they were right about certain things. Maybe by turning our backs on some of those "old fashioned" customs, we've thrown the baby out with the bathwater. Maybe the Amish are on to something. After all, they've been using cloth diapers all along.

Yesterday we drove through Amish and Mennonite communities in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. (Didn't tell you we were going on a trip this time, did I? ;) ). It's given me a lot to think about. One reason visiting Amish country is special is because it gives as a window back in time, a window that shows what we've gained...and what we've lost. Most Amish don't have cars, washing machines, phones or blogs, but they do have the ability to raise/grow their own food, make furniture, quilt and many other skills that most of us have lost. They hang their clothing, sheets and diapers out on the line, and I bet it comes in whiter and cleaner than mine comes out from my laundry room.

I'm not saying we should all live like the Amish or forsake all the technological advances we've made and things we've learned over the last century or two. But there's a lot of knowledge from earlier times that is worth holding onto, as well. What can we learn from the way our grandparents lived? What "advances" actually set us back? What can we teach our chldren that will help them navigate whatever technology develops next?

Edited to add a couple photos I took of Amish farms.

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