“Witness” discussing cultural differences Essay

In the story “Witness”, it tries to get across how different cultures mix together and how they deal with their differences. The police officer in the film “John Book” has a totally different way of living compared to the Amish people. He keeps on suggesting things that the Amish do not believe in or do not use or have. As the differences are so obvious John Book tries to change this by flirting with the mother of the young boy. He dances with her, sees her naked and nearly ends up kissing her.

The religious beliefs have affected the Amish way of life in such a way that the normal way for them is not to be violent and to take abuse without defending yourself. Their view is to deal with life’s problems in a compromising manner. The senior members of the group will remove any member of the Amish community failing to follow these rules. Their religion has been unfortunate in a sense that technological advances are seen as something totally out of the norm. This has put a strain on the religion, as they have had to use the traditional ways of life to cook, clean and build.

They also have the view that luxury and fancy clothes are an unusual thing to wear. They like to look plain because the fancy clothes make them stand out and they don’t want that. They even go as far as saying that buttons are too outstanding. The way they organise themselves in their local community is very different to ours. Every member of the community, who is able, chips in and helps. For example in the movie they all helped build the barn for just a normal member of the community. It wasn’t anyone special just a normal person like you and me.

Also if a member of the community is injured badly, everyone comes to lend support and help. The way that they help each other is like it would be in one single household to the general culture. This type of community is sometimes referred to as “Tight Knit” meaning everyone is like family to you or you are really close with the other people. They have very strict gender roles, where men do all the strenuous work and the women do the role of a typical housewife. The women cook, clean, knit and care mainly for the children.

Amongst the society that they are in, they always look out for each other. In the video the young boy continuously rings the bell and all the other siblings turn up to help and in the end this leads to one of the men surrendering. The Amish have been influenced and affected by the American culture. An example of this is that the Amish refer to anyone who is white as an “English”. Also as they fear what others may do to them, they decided to build areas where they can hide, in case a threat puts their family or community in danger.

Also they have learned to discipline themselves whenever a person of another religion confronts them or makes threats. Some Amish people live in fear of what others will do to them because they are different. Some even try to push the boundaries as much as they can to try and fit in. The Amish and the American culture have many differences. The language that they use is German and tends to be very posh and uses very little or no slang. On the other hand the Americans use the English language, but with an accent that varies all over the country. Slang is used often.

Amish food is organic or home grown food. The Americans eat burgers, chips, meat and anything that conquers hunger. As previously mentioned they dress, very plain and try not to stand out. The way the Americans dress is individual. You wear what feels comfortable. You dress to impress. The Amish use very little technology as they feel it’s wrong, but the Americans couldn’t function without it as most things use technology. The Amish only preach about their own religion. Meanwhile in America there are many different religions ranging from Sikhs to Rastafarianism.

The Amish lead a boring lifestyle, as they do not have much entertainment. They have to have dull, plain entertainment. Conclusion I think that the Amish way of life is very traditional but not always practical. I don’t really see the point in not taking advantage of the technological advances. It’s just making life harder for you. Although I think that it is very good how everyone helps everyone whenever you need a hand, I think that they are punishing themselves by trying to look plain and withdrawing themselves from the normal society.

The thing that I think is worst about the religion is that you have to take abuse but should not lash out and just ignore it. In some people it will be bottled up too much that they will just flip and someone will get seriously hurt. Although this is bad, the people tormenting them will think twice before they do it again, as they have seen what they can do and what they will do if they feel necessary. I think it would be more accepted if they were less hard on themselves.

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