12 October 2007

Paging John Galt

Today is the 50th anniversary of the publication of "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand.

I cannot begin to explain the profound influence Rand's work had on my life. I cannot understand it, let alone explain it.

I have never been a real religious person. I find it hard to believe one omnipotent being has enough time and energy to care about the individual lives of a couple billion humans on the planet. Additionally, how to reconcile the myriad religions? Buddhists think one thing, Muslims something else, Christians something entirely different. They cannot all be right, so what gives?

Back in the very late 1980s I was looking through my library of books, and found my paperback copy of "The Fountainhead," which I had had for a few years, but never read. I read it and my life changed. I was astonished to discover there was another person on this planet (Rand) who thought the same as I did about the value of a human being, the value of achievement, and the frustration living in a world where so many people do not care about either.

Then, I sought out her epic novel "Atlas Shrugged" and have never felt so alive in all my (then) thirty years of life. I wanted to find a place like that Valley populated with people like in her book.

Other of her books followed. I am glad to know there are others like me in the world, and sad for the people who read her works and do not get past their misconceptions of her concept of selfishness. It is not about "Me, me, me." Far from it. It is about people having the freedom to do as they please, guided only by reason, free from the restraints of emotion, mythology, government and the need to do for others -- as long as their actions do not intrude on the lives of others.

Just think what a grand world this would be.

Here are two articles about Rand's influence:

The New York Times

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer

No comments: