Part I: Introduction
Sunday, June 6th 2021, there was a JG promotion event in Rwanda at the “University of Lay Adventists of Kigali” (UNILAK) – Nyanza Campus.
The event was organized by Rene Yves UWAYO (participant of Liberty International’s Project Arizona) Assisted by Chris (a local coordinator with SFL).
The event started at 8:37 with opening remarks by Rene. Rene is a member of the Students For Liberty Rwanda and a student with Project Arizona 2022, he took the opportunity to encourage participants to apply for Project Arizona 2023 as he believes “it can meaningfully change their life like it changed his”. He extended his speech to talking about the liberty movement (the self-ownership philosophy and non-aggression principle) he also talked about laissez-faire ideas and why they are necessary for economic growth and prosperity. In the end he talked about the reason we were all gathered, which is the opportunity to discuss as a group about the book by Ken Schoolland entitled “The adventures of Jonathan Gullible.”
Part II: Discussion of the book
The participants embarked on sharing their review of the book, chapters that they liked the most, expressions and messages that they find captivating, conversations that got them thinking. It was an interactive session, driven by peer-to-peer conversations. We played a game as well where a group of three simulated Jonathan, the condor and Alisia scene, it was beautiful! In the end we agreed that some of the pertinent questions will be brought forward to Ken Schoolland for answers.
Part III: Presentation by Ken and questions
Guests through zoom: Ken Schoolland from LI and the author of the book, Glenn Cripe from LLI, Ritik Kumar from Project Arizona 2022 class, Bishnu from Nepal, Socrates Mugabi from ALED, Rafik from Morocco.
Ken Started off by making a small introduction of himself, the work he’s done along with his wife (over thirty years of camps, seminars and conferences) and Mr. Glenn Cripe (LLI camps across Europe) across Asia and Europe.
The book is published in more than 85 editions and more than 55 languages, 4 plays and 5 audiobooks, it also won awards. He then delved into the details dissecting the book chapter by chapter and interpreting the fiction in them to their real life meaning, inspirations that led to it and people’s comments about the book. He mentioned that there is no preaching in the book and it was intended to be that way, because he thinks “It is not a good practice in education to preach people, to tell people what you think but it’s important to raise questions to help people think through logical solutions to problems.”
He also appreciated Rwanda for doing better than many African countries in terms of Economic Freedom index where it is ranked “Green” by the Fraser Institute, second after blue and better than yellow and red
Ken’s session ended with encouraging the audience to try and use humor in their interactions, as it is much more powerful than people think.
Part IV: Questions & Answers
First Question: Why did you choose to write a fiction book?
Ken: I found stories much more interesting in conveying ideas than just textbooks. I grew up reading Ayn Rand and it was interesting for me
Question 2: Speaking of Ayn Rand, Do you think she would have come up with the philosophy of Objectivism, had she not lived in extreme communism with the Bolsheviks, gulags, etc. Do you think she would have come up with Objectivism had she not lived the opposite at its most extreme?
Ken: That’s a very nice question. My wife is from China and she grew up in the worst form of communism, in which probably 70 million people were killed by Mao’s government. She is a very powerful champion of liberty and so am i. But I think it’s a very important thing, people have to experience the hardship to really feel the passion for why you have to fight for it. She’s quite a philosopher and I think you’re right, probably her experience helped …like a crucible to shape her thinking.
Question 3: In your book you say that the libertarian philosophy is based on “self-ownership” whereas Mary Ruwart’s short answers say it is based on “non-aggression” principle. Is it the same or they are two complementary principles?
Ken: I believe these two things are ultimately tied together. Because you own your own life and you have right to it. The you have the right against aggression against you. Those two ideas are intertwined, they are two sides of the same coin.
Question 4: most Economists predict things but they do not take place, and instead end up giving explanations on why they did not happen, which I find sort of wrong. Should they be banned or discouraged, What is your advice on this?
Ken: I think that economists are some of the worst forecasters, they are very bad at predicting things. I am an economist, I have to give a little bit of grace to my profession, young people should study more of good economics.
Question 5: your book speaks of how taxation can make some people rich and others poor, can you elaborate on that?
Ken: people who produce in society are rewarded by what they produce (goods and services) and what they earn. To me, taxes are theft. Governments if they take people’s wealth from them is like stealing from them. If someone can take things from you against your will, then you are a slave, and if you are a slave to someone else you don’t have rights to your property.
Question 6: Grant in the bread machine proves that what’s right is not necessarily what’s legal since Nazism been once legal so was slavery and also what’s right is not necessarily the majority rule, a lynching mob is majority rule. Then what’s right to you is it what’s moral or?
Ken: The non-aggression principle is the best judge of that. It is right for you to choose what to do with your own life so long as you let people choose about their own life. As long as you pursue your own ends, that is moral. What is immoral is to force your will on other people.
Question 6: Mine is a curiosity question, I know that your book is fiction but was it about Florida and Cuba. As in the boat drifts and suddenly Jonathan finds himself in a less freer place
Ken: I live in Hawaii, so when I thought it was about Hawaii.
Question 7: my question is about chapter seven in the book, where the government took some lady’s house . Here in Africa master plans are made for building, isn’t it a good thing?
Ken: I think most politicians design those not based on the housing interests but on political interests. For example in Hawaii, they don’t allow mobile homes, they would be very cheap to buy. They don’t because they want to give favors to construction companies or construction unions. Then housing become very expensive.
Question 8: It’s about the chapter on the fisherman and the lake. How is it that some people can say some resources, such as a lake, are their own. Is it possible for a lake to belong to one person?
Ken: I think there are ways that people can own things and they become the beneficiaries of those, it could be one person or it could be a group of people, but that’s different than the government owning it where they get all the benefits and everyone gets the cost.
That was it from Ken and the presentation, the event was capped by Mr. Glenn Cripe who concluded with a thank you note and suggested that we might do this in person one day.
Part V: Networking and refreshments.
After the event had been successfully concluded, the participants and organizers shared a soda and snacks (samosas and Capatis) while discussing more about the book, Ken’s presentation and exploring ways for growth.
Part VI: Recommendations & feedback
- We would like to see the book translated in many more languages especially African languages, that includes our own Kinyarwanda Language.
- The group suggested enhanced interaction with nearby liberty organizations such as ALED in Uganda and Liberty Sparks in Tanzania and as well maintaining contact with Liberty International.
- Chris is to create a whatsApp group where all of us can meet for free-market books discussion.
- The group suggested efforts be put in plays as they are the quickest, fun and effective ways of teaching (one can barely forget a play).
- The group, subsequently, suggested that we can later on meet to also act “Jonathan and the diary man” scene. We found it very philosophically and ideologically educative.
As for feedback, it was overwhelmingly positive and we are looking forward to much more growth and coverage.
Prepared by: Rene Yves UWAYO