“Let’s just try to live together according to what the bible teaches us.”
Written by: The Bridge on Monday, August 21st, 2006
Just the other day, Joseph came to the management meeting all upset. Apparently what had happened was, someone from outside had come in and was telling him that the people of Palmgrove were just slaves to Inno Vetter (the minister) and the white men. The man said, that he had worked hard in the government council, and now had a nice house to live in and a good income, while the people of Palmgrove can’t even make their living. After discussing it in the morning management meeting, we found that this was a general attitude of the people around Palmgrove. Apparently it wasn’t the first time that someone came in and tried to discourage the people living here.
Living together in a community, with people of different personalities, does challenge one’s love for each other, sometimes more then we would like it too. Here in Palmgrove, it’s no different. Especially since financially it feels as if we are starting out from ground zero, spiritually, Palmgrove seems to be making better progress. So it’s no wonder that the people are sometimes quite discouraged.
It looks like it’s a problem of people being jealous of this lifestyle. They would like to live with all the positive benefits of communal living, but would rather not surrender their lives to it. Just like back home in Canada and the USA, where there are people who see all the material benefits of this lifestyle and some become jealous, thinking that the Hutterites have everything, so they slander the church. Of course there are Hutterites, who do not live according to God’s word, but simply on the traditions of man, which does create a bad image.
Looking back on Hutterite history, this problem does come up from time to time, especially when the church was located in areas where the people in general were poor. The communal way of living does have a great advantage over a single family struggling to make a living. For example, around the 1600’s, when the Hutterian church really grew, the people around them were often jealous of what they had and made life difficult for them. If you look around Nigeria, any place that has a nice house, hotel or even a half decent business has a high cement wall around it, with barbed wire strung out on top, or pieces of broken glass cemented in on top, and police with AK47s are everywhere. At first it reminded me of a war zone, but now that I’m used to it, it looks quite normal. So it’s no wonder that people would be jealous of a group of people who are trying to live together and are being helped out by the white people.
Paul Vetter asked one of the brothers what his opinion was of people who come in trying to discourage the Palmgrove people. The brother replied and said, “Let them be”, meaning you wouldn’t stop them anyway, “Let’s just try to live together according to what the Bible teaches us”. I thought that this was a pretty good answer. One of the younger guys told me that living in Palmgrove is a privilege, in that the outside world doesn’t affect us as much. One example he gave was, when you live outside, people harass you for money and abuse you if you don’t comply with their wishes. In the community, you are more protected from things like that. I didn’t think that that would have such an impact on them, since they have a lot more contact with the outside people then our communities back home. Having lived in community all my life, one doesn’t always fully appreciate the walls around us that are meant to protect us from the harmful influences and troubles of the world.