On Fortitude

Vikings hike through the snow
I’ve always tried to dream big for Copper Jungle. I hope that it grows from a fun side-hustle into a functional company. At my most audacious, I’ve imagined a Disney-esque juggernaut with flagship characters who fly the Gadsden instead of the child-mutilation flag. One for all Americans and not just those who are the right color (or, er, not the wrong color).

With this dream in mind, I’ve spent some time intentionally building the foundations for growth - writing the kinds of documents and policies a little outfit like this doesn’t really need yet. One of the most fundamental of these projects was taking the time to write out a first pass at company values. Of course, I know what I value, but being overly personal will be limiting. It had to be a set of values which could be used to evaluate product ideas (so many ideas), attract early customers, and find long-term partners to grow with.

Freedom and Family, two of the values most attacked by modern culture, were easy choices. Fun followed along shortly thereafter. This was in part a conscious effort not to let the gravity of other topics consume the entire catalog. Not every book or game needs to be moralistic; there’s value in fun. People, children especially, need to just having fun sometimes.

But after identifying 3 F’s, I was left with a hodgepodge of other ideas: initiative, grit, martial virtue, enterprise, prosperity, etc. I wanted to find another “F” to form a mnemonic that could be easily committed to memory. These things only matter to growing companies as much as employees can remember them (and I’m an airhead too). I considered Faith, but decided that was too personal.

I settled on Fortitude. It nicely encapsulates the idea of having what it takes to weather tough conditions - whether those be physical, emotional, or financial.

Framed this way, Fortitude is also an important hole in our culture that Copper Jungle aims to fill. It is an implicit rejection of metastasized victimhood and learned helplessness. It rejects the idea that weakness is a virtue. Instead of teaching children to look for help from helicopter parents or deified government, it suggests taking ownership and working through difficulties themselves.

After all, difficulty in life is practically assured. Even in the best of times, life can be unfair and uncertain. Some degree of emotional or physical pain is part of the experience for almost all of us. Do we teach our children to catalog every slight and demand recompense? Or do we teach them to pick themselves up and try again? Do we teach them to be perfectly safe? Or how to deal with danger?

I hope that we can do the latter. To date we’ve published books that deal thematically with many challenges - physical combat, struggles to fit in, death and decay, and living in a world of propaganda and surveillance. More titles are in the works now.

Of course, no single picture book is going to instill grit or courage all by itself, but for parents, educators, and guardians who value these things, I hope to provide entertainment options that respect and reinforce the lessons on Fortitude that you are providing. I’m making it part of the mission.
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