To the readers of my blog:
Before you view the following videos, I should first explain the reason for their posting.
I first read Atlas Shrugged, out of sheer, independent curiosity in 1997 and 1998. In fact, two of my college professors--the sculptors of economics purview, Gary Dale and Dr. L. Aubrey Drewry--referred to the book so often in our class that it really should have been required reading for the young capitalists coming out of BSC. I imagine that, for most people, though, the size of this novel is likely to be intimidating, and to be sure, it is a winding epic. Nevertheless, Atlas Shrugged is nothing less than an engaging and thought-provoking treatise worth to time of any man of intellect. Indeed, for me, behind the Holy Bible, Atlas Shrugged stands without a peer, as it has helped to shape my understanding of the world and my drive to etch an impressive mark in it.
I have quoted and recounted its voluminous pages often through the years, but over the previous week, I have found myself returning to it so many times that I could not help but to wonder if this story from Ayn Rand's mind had, in fact, always been the reality of our times.
First, I was driven into frustration when I saw that there were, among the thousands of protestors pouring into The City of London, groups of young people waving banners that read, rather insidiously, "EAT THE BANKERS!" To be sure, I concurred that a disregard for risk and a thrust for even greater profit-taking by financiers only helped to spur along our economic crisis, but attacking the whole of financial world, or questioning the legitmacy of the system (and even capitalism, for that matter), really is unwarranted. These images, as well as the pictures showing attacks on the bank building, really unnerved me, and led me to question if we are not all that far from the lunacy that fueled the dark days of the French Revolution, or that led people to burn down and loot their own communities from Los Angeles to Jakarta, or that even prompted them to seek out and slaughter their own neighbors in Sarajevo, in Kigali, in Warsaw, in Kinshasa, and in countless other places.
Then, later in the week, I was also "struck dumb" by the words of a friend (one who embodies a world of promise and potential of any titan), after he informed me that he would be willfully discarding an opportunity of returning to college, only because he was "afraid of what [his girlfriend's] family would say." Notwithstanding the fact that this was the blessing for which he'd been praying, losing the woman that he loved, or even the lukewarm acceptance of her family, for an opportunity to reshape his future (and still earn a living in the process) was just too great a risk to take.
Both of these events--one about broader economics, the other about personal achievement--reminded me of just how vicious and destructive the weaker denizens of our world can be at any level, as well as to what extent they can go to stifle the imaginative and the intrepid among us. In fact, for me, both of these events highlight the same tragic phenomenon: the demonization of progress. This world still fears those that it does not understand; it still strives to silence those who elect to take risks, those who aspire to be different, and those who want more. And this world still punishes the independent thinker. That, in my most firm opinion, is a crime.
In these troubled times, perhaps it is only fitting that Ayn Rand's novel is flying off of bookshelves around the world. It can only serve as an excellent reminder that we cannot allow those who have never dared to dream, or who have never elected to take risks for their own sake, be the ones who now hope to champion our restoration. We cannot allow them to dictate the course our lives. If we do, then there blind meandering will only lead to greater tragedy than the ones we face today.
To be continued...at your own volition.