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Miriam's Story

Miriam describes her experience studying the Hutterite community. She reflects on their sense of community and how it has been shown in her own life.

Miriam's Story
00:00 / 05:21

When I graduated from college, which is just where you are, I was able to know about and to actually, in that summer afterwards, go to study the Hutterites. The Hutterites and live communally. But what it means to live communally is that you're not really looking at what a lot of psychology looks at, which is sort of an individual lifespan, or tradition or whatever, of self, self, self. But these are people who live in a rural area, in a farming in the Midwest or in Canada, who came from east from Europe, decades go. This is a an agrarian farm thing. And these people learned from childhood there were a few people who moved into these communities but they've had plenty of children an average of 10 to 12 children, per family. Yeah. And I was amazed by how the world can be so different if you're living in a situation where you don't have money. Nobody has things. No, you don't own a house. This there's a car. But that's because the man who was in charge of the the farming things, he has to go to town and buy some equipment that can't be made, but the shoemaker lived there, and the people who made their clothes lived there. And there was a use of health care that people thought it was necessary. Nobody lived in individual house, nobody had their own fancy kitchens, everybody ate, breakfast, lunch, dinner together. Everybody went to school, but not outside, of course, they had their own teachers, they had their own churches, and they had their own process. Everybody went to church. Everybody wore the shoes that were made there. And everybody saw themselves as very much like the others. There were, there was a family or a couple who belong to the community, and they left. And that was a terrible thing for that community. Wow. Nobody ever left these communities. Right. Right.

Do you think it helped them in a way to have this really, really intense sense of community? Or did it almost become like a, like a total lack of individualism?

That's a very difficult question. Right. Right. I think that is the basic question.

In the United States, there's been sort of this push for, like, sort of extreme individualism, and it's sort of like, you rely on yourself, you get your toes, and that's, that's kinda like, where the line is drawn. We lost a sense of community in a lot of places, I think. So I wonder how we can find that happy medium, sort of where it's like, you still like feel like your own person, and you have this autonomy, but to still feel grounded in your community, you know what I mean?

In fact, have a probably 30/40 years ago now, there were villages where older people were able to sort of join together and support each other. Because they were they really want to live in a nursing home. There's nothing about a nursing home that is desirable. And they've started it here five years ago, called Northampton neighbors, but it was for older people who and that's how come I happen to be sitting here with you.

Yes, yeah, exactly.

Could join together in some ways, but have the kind of autonomy and world of their very special interests, and biases and skills and so forth. And it has worked. Right? Right has worked amazingly well. So anybody could call and say, Ah, is it possible that somebody could get me to the doctor, you know, supposed to snow on Wednesday, and there'll be somebody who would volunteer to take the person.

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