Just before our faculty meetings began in preparation for the new school year my family took a few days of vacation down in the Lancaster County “Amish Country.” It is an area we have visited before, though it was about 10 years ago when last we did so. The beautiful farmlands and country crafts remind us of our time in Nebraska.
While we were there we visited an old Amish farm and home which are kept as a kind of museum to give tours to tourists like us. While on the tour the topic of the Amish’s clothing came up. Someone asked why they wear clothing which makes them so conspicuous in public if their goal is to wear clothing that is the diametrical opposite of prideful showing off. The guide reminded us that in a school which wears uniforms, all the students are dressed exactly alike at school and their garments only stand out when outside of school.
This was a helpful analogy, but it got me thinking. The analogy breaks down. Outside of school, students dress exactly as they please, which turns out to be an odd balance of individuality and conformity which does not scream “I go to Snobbish Prep.” (No, private school students are not snobs, and my point is that they don’t wear the uniform outside of school unless absolutely necessary because they want to blend in with their peers.)
Could it be that it has become a point of pride among the Amish to stand out in society? Does their attire, which appears decidedly odd in the 21st century, scream “Notice me!”? Could they not find attire that is modest, simple, and inconspicuous? Perhaps they are proud of their oddity. I don’t know the Amish well enough to know if that is the case, but it made me question myself. Do I ever, in the way I dress or act, try to stand out and be noticed? Is there pride in my heart in being “different”? That train of thought was convicting.