Monday, September 01, 2014

Why I like Ayn Rand?

In this recent frenzy of listing books that have influenced you deeply, I found several mentions of Ayn Rand. It was certainly on my list. It is a bit unusual though because most of us would generally side with the liberal school of political thought. To me, Ayn Rand will always be special because she made me realize that our notions of good versus bad is not so black and white, early in my life. That is a bit of a strange statement, Rand being such a relentless Puritan. However, truly, processing her re-categorization of every notion of virtue was actually a pretty confusing exercise. One that was thrilling nevertheless, because of the unique perspectives it offered to my mind.

For example, I already knew how the immediate circumstances or the local context could color an act. I have stolen a cookie when my partner wasn't watching and told myself I could live with that deception because I was hungry and that made it alright. But, what I never quite grasped before, was how the distant circumstances or the global context such as the far reaching consequences of an act or the deep rooted philosophies of the doer, could also color an act. Feeding the hungry is always good, isn't it?

Ayn Rand made me realize why not to feel driven to feed the hungry. How pity, is a disgraceful emotion, most disrespectful of the human spirit. I realized how important it is to leave the fed with a sense of renewed purpose in their lives and not just a full stomach. When I see the United States struggle with its image despite the many acts of altruism it constantly engages in, I feel like there is a reason they suffer this fate. They just feed the hungry and they are done with it. Most no-one is better off from it other than the corrupt middle-men perhaps. They expend minimal effort in spreading the philosophy of self-reliance, in teaching people who the US really are, other than big bully with the fat purse - and so that image endures. I have seen so many who live in this country unaware and uncaring of the philosophical principles this country was founded upon. You cant breed loyalty out of thin air.

Rand taught me how the why was as important as the what in whenever you choose to act and just not for you, but for all parties in the equation. I learned it is as important to teach someone integrity as it is to teach them math. No lasting good can be done without initiation into the right philosophy. I think this is the essence of what I took home from Rand's writings.

So tell me, what did you take home from Ayn Rand?