I didn't send Frank Hartman a message about my feelings over his poor choice of words yesterday about "Socially awkward children day at the legislature!" I could tell that others were engaging him and I felt that my piling on wouldn't necessarily help. After having some time to consider it, I have some thoughts I'd like to share.
Honestly, my first response was, "Oh boy." My second thought though was, "Is he serious? Could he be taking a shot at the same people that I would who make up generalizations about homeschoolers?" The reason for this is mainly because it's not a stretch to say that I myself would post "Socially Awkward Children Day at the Capitol!" to make fun of the clueless idiots that don't understand (or care to understand) homeschoolers. The only difference would be that among MY FRIENDS and MY CIRCLE, they would get it. I don't fault anyone who sent him a message, fiery or otherwise, because he stepped in it, and someone was going to respond. I think there are some bigger insights that we can glean from this.
I've often made the joke, "The United States of the Offended." Everyone seems to be offended about something. It's gotten quite out of hand. I can't say I was necessarily "offended" by his post, I'm just tired of it. I am SOOOOO tired of "Well, what about socialization!?!?" It is my favorite argument to debunk because of its absolute lack of foundation, reason, and common sense. It's low-hanging fruit. I think we as homeschoolers have an opportunity like no one before us. We have an opportunity for great impact. We have the opportunity to raise up a generation that are NOT mindless robots, constantly repeating everything they hear on the "news" as fact.
So why does a silly comment like this garner so much outrage and contempt? Ibelieve there is a bigger issue at hand. "Stick and stones may break my bones...." Right? We've all heard it. It doesn't mean that words don't hurt, but they shouldn't injure or kill. Having had time to reflect on it, it is my opinion that the reason, in this case, that homeschoolers were so incensed by these words is that we are tired of having the government's target on our backs, and this guy and his cute little quip aren't helping. After all, if it wasn't for clueless and mindnumbingly ignorant people, homeschoolers would be held up as heroes - people who go above and beyond to take on a responsibility that others don't deem as necessary or worthwhile. "Look at those homeschoolers over there! They're so dedicated! They sacrifice and make changes in their lifestyle for the benefit of their children!" When you stop laughing, you can continue.
So what's at the root of this? I believe the answer is Prohibition. Prohibition supposedly ended on December 5, 1933 with the ratification of the 21st amendment, but I believe it was just getting started. Here in the "Land of the Free," we seem to have a passion for prohibition of things WE don't like, and we also seem to view the government as the ultimate protector and provider of safety and security. Let's have a look at a small list of things in today's society that you can at least find an organized group in favor of, or in opposition to, bans to be handed down by the government.
Raw milk sales and consumption
Home births and midwifery
Texting/talking/drinking and driving
Drop side baby cribs
American culture has unfortunately evolved to a point where, when one or more of us sees something we don't like, or we can simply point out that the existence or "legality" of _________ will have some effect on our personal lives (safety or security), therefore _________ must be banned by law and decree. We then wrap ourselves in the comfort and satisfaction that the government has taken action and _________ is no longer a threat.
Here's the problem - Bans (prohibition) do not work. They never have. They never will. Politicians can gather together and write words on paper and vote on them until they run out of paper and words, but humans have a multi-generational track record of ignoring laws and regulations as if they don't even exist. From the Old Covenant Books of the Bible up to current day, humans break laws. Those of us who choose to live under the New Covenant Grace of Christ Jesus have the comfort and solace in the fact that we no longer need to perform in order to gain the Father's love. The finished work of Christ on the Cross took care of that for us. So, if laws (bans) don't work because humans will ignore them, then where is the safety and security that comes from the law? It's only in our minds. We carry a false sense of security that "because _________ has been banned or regulated, I need not fear _________ will harm me."
For most of the last twenty years, I have been an over-the-road truck driver. Today I own and operate my own truck. On top of the duties included in operating the truck safely, I am also responsible for all of its maintenance and care. One prime example I can offer from my own experience is this - bans on texting while driving INCREASE the chance and danger of being involved in a crash with someone who is texting. Why? Humans don't obey laws. If I mounted a camera on my driver's side window looking down on the vehicles that pass me, you could see that there are as many, if not more, people texting and playing with their handheld devices than before all the bans were put into effect. The difference? Now they are holding the device down out of the view of law enforcement and further pulling their eyes away from the road. Certainly, I believe it to be a very stupid and dangerous decision to text while driving, and saying that I don't think it should be illegal sounds counterintuitive, but at some point we have to realize that writing more and more laws comes with the need for more and more enforcement. Do we really need for police officers to have MORE reasons to stop, interrogate, and suspect us of crimes, especially when those crimes have no real victim?
Here's one more example from my personal experience. Truck drivers were forced by law to wear seat belts long before it was mandatory for cars. In April of 2012, I was driving in Eufala, Alabama. I was uncertain of the road I was on and reached for my map. The map fell in the floor. At the next red light, I took off my seat belt and reached down to pick the map off the floor. When I looked up, the light turned green. I released the clutch and took off. Siren. The Alabama State Trooper across the intersection from me saw that I didn't have on a seat belt and pulled me over. He told me how obvious it was because I was wearing a white T-shirt. (That was the last day I wore a white T-shirt while driving. I own dark blue and black only.) The fine was $211.00. I nearly lost my job. It was only that my fleet manager stood up for me as his most productive driver that I didn't have my lease cancelled. So why would a company fire a driver because of a seat belt? In 2010, the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) came up with a plan called CSA2010 - Compliance, Safety and Accountability. This system has a scoring system like the one for your driver's license. A seat belt ticket carries a higher point total than reckless driving. Yes, you read the correctly. My carrier had a rash of drivers getting seat belt tickets and it was driving their scores up. I paid a lawyer $650.00 to have the ticket dismissed. That ticket is no longer on my driving record. It is as if it never happened. I paid the fine and the lawyer, and it was erased. At some point you have to ask, "Is it about safety, or is about revenue and control?"
As I see things now, if it were not for the raucous demand of the American people to ban everything they fear, words like those posted by Mr. Hartman would be of no consequence. We could look over and say, "Oh the poor thing. Bless his heart. He just doesn't understand" and go on about our personal lives. Instead, we are forced to come to term with our own real fears that these words will stoke the fire of bureaucrats and politicians to interfere with our lives in a very intrusive and unwelcome way.
These are all uncomfortable topics. Many of them have moral connotations and people just do not feel comfortable discussing them. We must discuss them, and we must discuss them outside the influence of the "news" and all of the twisted messages it provides. I don't use drugs, I'm not gay, I'm not a Muslim, I don't drink raw milk, I'm not a midwife. You see where I'm going. Bans on these things don't affect me. I am a Homeschooler. I use tobacco. I drive a truck (an old truck that doesn't comply with EPA regulations. That's another story for another time). I have a 14 month old child that I would love to be able to lay down in a drop side crib to save my bad back, but I can't because they're illegal (my wife is considering giving me authorization to get out the power tools and rectify that situation. I'll outline that particular piece of civil disobedience and blatant disregard for "THE LAW!!!" in another post sometime).
Homeschoolers, we have done the hard work. We have already taken that first giant leap toward ultimate freedom and liberty. We have done something that many others simply don't believe is even possible, yet we are doing it. We just want to be left alone. It's time for us to consider the fact that, in order to be left alone, we are going to have to leave others alone as well. We can be the shining example. We ARE the shining example of what can happen when people take ultimate care and responsibility for their own choices and actions.
I am building a page on my website to gather resources that will help others in the pursuit of better understanding Liberty and freedom so that we can break away from the left/right paradigm and shred the little cards of "allowable opinion" offered to us by the Democrats and Republicans. Check there often as I add links and reading suggestions to it.