The most important factor of Amish life is Gelassenheit, or submission to the will of God. Gelassenheit is based primarily on Jesus' words, "not my will but thine be done."16 By giving up individuality and any thought of selfishness, they embrace God's will by serving others and submitting to Him. To the Amish, Gelassenheit is seen in all of the following aspects of Amish life:
Personality: reserved, modest, calm, quiet
Values: submission, obedience, humility, simplicity
Symbols: dress, horse, carriage, lantern
Structure: small, informal, local, decentralized
Ritual: baptism, confession, ordination, foot-washing
** Excerpted from Kraybill, Donald. The Riddle of Amish Culture. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1989, p.26.
The Amish feel that Gelassenheit should permeate every facet of their existence, and even be apparent in their material possessions. Consequently, they will only selectively use modern technologies. As seen in the symbols of Gelassenheit, the Amish believe that using lanterns and the buggies typifies their lifestyle of simplicity and modesty. Any technology that does not uphold the Gelassenheit principles is banned from use. Electricity is seen as a connection with the outside world and violates the Amish principle of separation from society. Electricity also promotes the use of household items, such as the television, that allow the outside, "English," values of sloth, luxury, and vanity to infiltrate the household. Automobiles are not often used because they degrade the Gelassenheit principle of a small, close-knit community. The Amish fear, with good reason, that these modern transportation technologies will cause them to spread apart, much like most modern American families. Also, the Amish fear that the automobile will promote competition among themselves. They worry that the car will become a status symbol and promote vanity, which is in direct violation of the Gelassenheit value of modesty. The telephone is banned from the household because, much like the automobile, it promotes a separation of community. Instead of taking a carriage or walking to a friend's house, the Amish feel that they would be tempted to simply stay home and speak on the phone. In order to uphold Gelassenheit, many modern technologies have been banned from regular use.