My Red Pill

Most people who know me or have read this blog know that I am pretty conservative. You would be forgiven for thinking that I had always been that way. I have not. I mean, almost, but not completely.

Have you ever heard this old joke? “If you’re not a liberal by 20, you have no heart. If you’re not conservative by 50, you have no brain.”

Well, I was liberal far before 20. I was until I was, I don’t know, 12? I was generally of the opinion that people were basically good. That the government really did want to help the people. I thought that everything I read in my history books was true. I mostly bought into all of the liberal propaganda.

And then I read one book.

One book was all it took to completely change my mind about just about everything I believed in. My grandpa gave me a book when I was probably 12 or 13. It was called The Real Lincoln by Thomas DiLorenzo.

lincolnI might have mentioned this book before, but I’m not sure I’ve explained the impact that it had on me. First, I have to explain that I didn’t want to read this book. I liked Abraham Lincoln. I thought that I understood how the Civil War worked. And I knew that this book was going to say things that I didn’t want to hear.

I avoided it for about a year. For a year, that book sat on my shelf just bothering me. I didn’t know why I was avoiding it, but it turned out that I couldn’t do it forever.

Oddly enough, it was my regular history book that brought me back to it. A single line in my history book stuck out at me. It said that Abe Lincoln was the person that forced the war to begin. It wasn’t the South, and that really surprised me.

All my life, I had been taught that Abe Lincoln was a saint and the people of the South were all horrible racist slavers (and my parents are southerners, so you can imagine what they thought of that). But here I am suddenly finding out that Lincoln purposefully started the war (and I found out later it was for economic reasons, not moral ones). So finally, I sat down to read the book.

I was completely blown away. I’m not going to explain it in detail, but gosh, Lincoln was a monster and everything I was every taught about the Civil War was either wrong or terribly skewed.

Learning who Abraham Lincoln really was tore down my entire intellectual world. Suddenly, I was questioning everything that I had ever known. I was confused, and I needed to know what was real. I need some sort of bedrock.

For a little while, I all but stopped reading fiction. I devoured book after book about politics, history, religion, etc. I never noticed it, but my thoughts and ideas started changing.

I started believing a lot of new different things. But more importantly, I stopped believing in a lot of things. I stopped believing that people are essentially good. I stopped believing that the government had my best interests at heart. I stopped believing that everything in my history books was true.

In short, I became very skeptical. Of everything. To this day, I believe almost nothing of what I read online or anywhere else if I don’t have four or five sources to back it up.

I’m not sure why it pushed me toward the conservative side of things. Perhaps it was the fact that I had just found out that the modern liberal political and educational establishment had been lying to me for my entire life.

It’s amazing to me what one little book can do. And by the way, I still highly recommend the book. Who knows, maybe you’ll have the same reaction I did.

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Grades vs. Education

I’m quitting a class that I think I would really like and one that I would probably learn a lot in. I’m not doing it because I don’t like the professor. I’m not doing it because I want an easier course. I am quitting this class because I worry about my grade.

You see, I’m here at Liberty on an academic scholarship, full-tuition actually. To continue to receive the financial aid that I need (because Lord knows I couldn’t even begin to afford this school otherwise), I have to stay in the honors program. To stay in the honors program, I have to keep up a GPA of 3.5. Which is fine. I don’t normally mind having to keep my grades up. I’m kind of a perfectionist anyway. The issue is that I am beginning to feel like I am actually sacrificing my education for sake of my grade point average.

I started out this semester in Theology 201 Honors. I like the professor, and I think the discussion-based aspect of the class would make it instructive and fun. But unfortunately, the professor has a liking for pop quizzes of the essay variety (why I hate essay exams and quizzes is a whole other post). If you’ve ever had to do something like this, then you’ll understand that it’s really hard. When the reading is 40+ pages, it’s even harder.

I realized after taking the first quiz that I probably won’t get an A in the class. Now I could keep going and accept whatever grade I get, but I feel it isn’t worth the risk to my GPA. I want an education. I want to learn, but to keep attending Liberty, I need to keep up my scores. There are certain things that I can’t take the risk on if I want to keep going, including overly-difficult honors courses.

But at the same time, I probably won’t learn as much in a normal theology class as I would in my honors one. So I wonder if it is worth it to me in the long run. I wonder if I’m handicapping myself later by choosing to be more careful now.

I’ve long said that if I was rich I wouldn’t go to school full-time. I would take one or two classes a semester just for the sake of learning, and spend the rest of my time applying my knowledge. I want to learn but when it comes to grades, well, I would really rather not care.

If I wasn’t being graded, I could delve more deeply into subjects that interested me, that really allowed me to grow. It’s one of the things that I loved about homeschooling, that amazing freedom to do as I liked. But as things stand now, I am so focused on grades that I wonder if I am really learning or if I am instead just performing.

My education is more than just my grades.

It’s a nasty dichotomy. I must get good grades to keep up my educations, but my education feels shallower because I must focus too heavily on my grades.

I also wonder if this feeling of wariness will continue with me when I leave school. Will I be trained to avoid risks that might further my career or personal development? Will I become so careful that I do not progress, that I become stagnant?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, and I don’t know if I ever will. In the meantime, I’m left wondering and frustrated, praying that I will learn enough in the honors class, PSYCH 101, to make up for what I will miss in the theology class.

P.S. On an unrelated note, you should check out one of my other blogs on Medium. I had to make this one for a Journalism class. My handle is @RatherBeWriting, and I recently wrote a post about what makes good writing that is worth a look.