Though the area surrounding South Bend might not be known for its dazzling beauty, a destination less than an hour’s drive away is worth visiting.
Shipshewana is a quaint Amish Township with fewer than 1,000 inhabitants. Every year it draws over 1 million tourists, and it is easy to see why. This charming place perfectly encapsulates the Amish way of life.
The Amish currently number roughly 250,000 and are one of
the fastest growing religious groups in the U.S.; their population is expected to swell to one million by 2050. The Amish have a strong sense of community and a desire to live simply. They revile the notion of ‘Hochmut’ (vanity and arrogance) and believe that one of the keys to a happy life is that of ‘Gelassenheit’ — effectively the idea of ‘letting be’ and submitting to the will of Jesus.
These two tenets explain much of their way of life. For example, the Amish find colorful clothing and buttons to be frivolous. Having one’s photo taken is seen to be a potential precursor to vanity, and the lack of electricity or luxuries is a way of curtailing any feelings of envy or competitive spirit toward one’s neighbor. The lack of cars, telephones and electrical appliances such as televisions or radios helps to stop
the Amish community from drifting apart and ensures, to them, that external society’s potentially damaging influences remain at bay.
Though mainstream American society has managed to find a foothold in tourist-heavy Shipshewana — the Wells Fargo bank branch is a real eyesore — it still retains a feeling of authenticity. Whether you try their delicious home-baked goods, find some bargains at the largest flea market in the Midwest or ride around in a stylish buggy through this bucolic township, Shipshewana will undoubtedly be more interesting than re-watching “The Office” for the umpteenth time this weekend.