Something I can appreciate as a side effect of all the shutdowns and delayed/cancelled school openings is the surge in families who are choosing to homeschool, or finding an education alternative for their kids. Microschools, school pods, unschool—you name it, people who have always sent their kids to government schools are having their minds blown wide open to all the awesome “alt-ed” options out there.
I certainly didn’t have that on my radar for things that would happen in 2020.
Another thing I wasn’t prepared for (but am thrilled with) is the surge in popularity of our Tuttle Twins books. These last few months have brought record sales, with no sign of things slowing down anytime soon. We’ve hired a ton of new staff just so that we can pack all the books people are ordering!
With this surge in new customers, we’ve also had a ton of new questions and comments on our social media posts—there are a bunch of people encountering the principles and ideas we teach for the first time.
One thing that has struck me as really important, and a little bit sad, is the frequency with which people ask, “Do these books teach Republican or Democrat ideas?” Before they even go to our website and look at our books, before they even read through the reviews, before they even watch an ad video all the way through, they want to know which party we support and, I’m assuming, they intend to make their decision on whether our product is “good” or “bad” based on the answer.
This politicizing of every single idea is intellectual poison. It makes people shut their minds to anything that hasn’t been pre-approved by some faceless collective, and it further polarizes an already highly polarized nation.
So many people have outsourced every bit of research and reason to some imaginary group that tells them if what they are encountering should be accepted or rejected. Gone is the curiosity that has propelled the best minds in history to discover for themselves the answers to questions that vex them. Gone is the introspective nature that compels a person to measure new ideas against principles they have already found to be just and good. Instead, people only want a one-word answer.
Republican or Democrat?
Depending on the answer, they are prepared to either gleefully whip out their credit card and purchase every product we make, or denounce us as a danger to society and propagandists for all that is wrong with the world. Sure, there are more than two parties, but in recent months (years?) there doesn’t really seem to be much of a distinction in the fervor with which all party loyalists use affiliation as the litmus for virtue.
The answer that we always give sounds something like this:
We don’t talk about party politics or politicians—the principles in our books are suitable for everyone concerned with protecting their rights and the rights of others, and with building a prosperous and free society. Our books teach principles of the free market. They teach about sound money, entrepreneurship, the consequences of central planning, the history of the Federal Reserve and what it has done to our money, the dangers of cronyism, protectionism, and bailouts, and why government has a tendency to become predatory instead of protective. They teach about self-reliance and the responsibility we have to help and care for others in our community. They teach how protest and community activism can bring about changes in government, and that kids can do big, and real, and important things.
This response has a strange effect on a lot of people. They kind of short-circuit.
Most people (especially on social media) are so conditioned to see everyone and everything in such “them v. us” terms that they really don’t know what to do when someone opts out of using party affiliation as their selling point. Even medical “experts” and their guidance are sometimes accepted or rejected based on their perceived political allegiance! Partisan group-think has poisoned every facet of our society.
How’s that for a crazy “new normal”?!
So what do we do?
We keep teaching sound principles that stand independent of partisan tidal changes. And we spread the word widely to others, with your help—because the masses need to hear this message.
We can also teach these principles in our interactions with family, friends, and strangers. We can encourage our kids to be critical thinkers who listen and reason and learn in every situation regardless of who is presenting them with new information. We can hold ourselves and others responsible for individual actions and beliefs and not for the actions and beliefs of others.
If we can succeed in raising the next generation to demand more of themselves than mindless submission to a collective set of ideas—or mindless judgements of others by the same standard—then we will have won the war.
It’s hard in a label-obsessed culture to simply say, “I am me. And this is what I believe,” but just imagine a world where everyone sees themselves and others as precisely what they are, and not as the same as everyone else who looks, or loves, or worships, or lives like them.
Collectivism kills. It kills creativity, it kills peace, it kills curiosity and reason, and it kills the spread of good and virtuous and moral principles.
So let’s endeavor to reject it in all of its ugly forms.