Saturday, September 15, 2001

Attack tests pacifists' views


Adams Co. Amish hear news despite lack of TVs, radios

By Randy McNutt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        UNITY, Ohio — The terrorist disasters in New York and Washington, D.C., have affected even the Amish, who live around this tiny crossroads community in rural Adams County.

        “We're taught to turn the other cheek and so forth, but we can also see that our leaders need to protect the country, to keep what our forefathers have set up,” said Atlee Hochstetler, a retired cedar-plank factory owner and respected local leader.

        When the president spoke at a National Day of Prayer in the capital at noon on Friday, Amish men prepared for an annual auction near the Unity Parochial School, run by the Amish.

        No radios blared, no televisions flashed the grim news. Men placed toys, antiques and other items on long tables in preparation for the school's fund-raiser today.

        “We're concerned. Unfortunately, it's the way of things,” Mr. Hochstetler said. “It's sad that people get such hatred that they'll bring about these acts of violence. The hatred is like a boil that's finally erupting.”

        He fears that the disruption will affect the economy.

        “If we didn't respect our leaders, we wouldn't pay taxes,” he said. “Our main concern is for the loss of life.”

        The Amish — nonviolent and cloistered — live in a community within a community.

        “But we've got individual thoughts, every one of us,” he said. “I've got a lot of respect for the people who fought in the First and Second World Wars. We would not be leading the life we lead without them. We're thankful to be living in a country that allows us to educate our own.”

        Another community leader, Lydia Miller, whose family turned a farm and bakery into a major furniture, feed and bakery complex, has a slightly different opinion.

        “A lady drove me to the dentist the other day and said, "We've got to go after whoever did this damage.' I thought, is that the way to look at it? I'm glad I don't have to make that decision. I hope it never happens here.”

        That seems unlikely, for Unity is about as rural as can be imagined. The “town” consists of a cemetery, a small grocery and a few houses. Farms surround it in the hilly countryside.

        About 80 Amish families live in the area. Every other one seems to go by the name Miller. They started arriving in the mid-1980s and have grown steadily in number. They own farms, harness shops, wood shops and other small businesses.

        Baker Larry Miller said the attack put a cloud over his anniversary trip to Marietta. “It messed up everything,” he said. “The attack was so tragic.”

        Leah Miller works in her family's feed store on Wheat Ridge.

        “I've been too busy working to talk much about the situation,” she said. “But there's been some talk about it. You can't escape it these days, even though I don't have a radio or television to distract me.

        “I don't worry about it. We try to keep our trust in God. He will take care of things.”

       



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