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.
I 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.