Resources for American enlightenment in 2021

The holiday season approaches after one of the most tumultuous years in half a decade within the United States comes to a close. Universities have in many areas become nothing more than indoctrination centers.  Violence has permeated the streets.  Governors of certain states act in an increasingly tyrannical manner.  The news media distort, omit, and even flat-out lie about significant stories.  Meanwhile, a presidential election unlike any other in American history has left many good-natured, well meaning citizens feeling confused, frustrated, and at times exasperated and hopeless.  Should we want to come out of these troubling times stronger, freer, and wiser than before, the following multi-platform plan to educate and inoculate oneself against poisonous ideology may be more of a priceless holiday gift this Christmas than any material item could ever be.

  1. The Jordan Peterson Biblical Series

This series of lectures, free on YouTube, covers the book of Genesis with strong overlap with Jungian psychology, world religions, and foundations of Western ethical and political theory.  The advantages of starting with this series over the rest are numerous: you can listen to it during driving, work, or other "free" moments that allow for multitasking during the day, plus it lays the groundwork that much of Western civilization stands upon.  Understanding the concepts within this series adds tremendously to the depth and application of other learned information at personal and societal levels.  Importantly, it helps the average citizen understand the power-lust, envy, and corrupt mentality we face every day.

  1. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

This short book, written by Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, reminds us that all these problems we face are not new at all; in fact, there is a system of dealing with such problems with clarity, focus, and mental fortitude that helps combat the dismay and despair that so easily ensnares human nature.  From reciting the wisdom of his mentors to purifying the soul to dealing with enemies, Meditations is a classic text that can be an invaluable rock in a time of storms.

  1. The March of Folly by Barbara Tuchman

To the observing citizen, it may seem outright bizarre to watch a sizable portion of the country pursuing policies that are well known historically to end badly.  Uncontrollable debt, enhanced government power, the loss of free speech, edicts to control everything from restaurants to how many people can be gathered — certainly, this is not the American way.  The brilliant Tuchman explores this very concept — known as folly — in a factual, historical way that is astounding.  Examining why people would knowingly act against their own interest is an enlightening endeavor and opens one's eyes to the games being played.

  1. That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis

This penetrating work of fiction, oft forgotten, gives us insight into the process of moral degradation for the individual man, including the desire to be a part of the "inner circle" and the corruption that desire can bring to the human heart, mind, and soul.  More importantly, a path of redemption is presented in an insightful way that all readers would find valuable and appreciate.  This novel is also great for students.

  1. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Novelist Ayn Rand once posed the question, "Who needs philosophy?"  The answer: everyone.  Want to know the intellectual roots of all of the ideologies plaguing the country?  How they gained a foothold?  What their logical endgame must always be?  More importantly: the antidote and how it can be applied individually, socially, and politically?  Then Rand's tome about the heroic man is for you.  Keep a highlighter or a pen to makes notes ready at hand.

  1. Coolidge: An American Enigma by Robert Sobel

While at the surface this may seem to be a surprising choice, a little evaluation shows why it's a great one.  President Coolidge was perhaps the last chief executive to govern as a Jeffersonian/Madison-style constitutionalist — separation of powers, low spending, low taxes, and personal freedom.  Perhaps not surprisingly, the Coolidge administration was incredibly successful even after the calamity of Woodrow Wilson's tenure.  The book provides important American historical knowledge while showing what leadership could look like for all levels and branches of government. 

There are numerous other choices that could be great.  What this list hopefully does is tie various disciplines together and demonstrate how knowledge can be applied in practical, everyday life.  Happy learning.

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