Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Lost in the Crowd

"I know not if this earth on which I stand is the core of the universe or if it is but a speck of dust lost in eternity. I know not and I care not. For I know what happiness is possible to me on earth. And my happiness needs no higher aim to vindicate it. My happiness is not the means to any end. It is the end. It is its own goal. It is its own purpose.

Neither am I the means to any end others may wish to accomplish. I am not a tool for their use. I am not a servant of their needs. I am not a bandage for their wounds. I am not a sacrifice on their altars."

"The word "We" is a lime poured over men, which sets and hardens to stone, and crushes all beneath it, and that which is white and that which is black are lost equally in the grey of it. It is the word by which the depraved steal the virtue of the good, by which the weak steal the might from the strong, by which the fools steal the wisdom of the sages."
From Anthem, by Ayn Rand, pgs. 95 & 97

We are living in a divided nation. Its' division stems from so many different places that it's difficult to know where to find the taproot. At present, the division is manifesting itself in what is essentially class warfare; the 99% versus the 1%. There is much talk of creating a more "fair" society where our needs are met primarily by government programs (free health care, free public university, etc.). The people at the core of this movement desire a country where everyone is "equal", where no one person is better, in any way, than any other person. (I believe that many of these people would go further to say that no one person is better than any animal as well.)

Let us consider the implications of the above philosophy, a world where everyone is "equal". First of all, what does that even mean? Does it mean that we are all equally as gifted at playing a musical instrument? Clearly we are not. Does it mean that we are all equally as intelligent? Not so. Does it mean that our professions should all pay the same amount of money regardless of the level of expertise required? What does it mean then? To our forefathers it meant that we are all created equally in the eyes of our Creator, and that we are endowed with certain God-given rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It meant that God does not look at any one person as "better" than any other. He loves all of humanity with the same unconditional love, because that is God's nature. I don't believe our forefathers intended this to mean that everybody should be treated equally. In fact, it's an impossibility to treat everyone equally. As a human being, gifted with the power of rational thought and intense emotion, we are incapable of treating every person we come in contact with in the same way. It's impossible, unless you live in a totalitarian, socialist or communist society, where you are required to treat everyone in the same manner or suffer the consequences. As a human being living in a civilized society, we should, for our own sakes, treat everyone with respect and with kindness. This is the polite and civilized way to live. Apart from that, people have different relationships, connections, conflicts, resentments, admiration, and love in varying degrees for different people.

We are living in a country where we're hearing almost daily that humans are the source of evil and destruction in the world. Humans are responsible for the destruction of the planet, for man-made climate change, for the extinction of animals, for everything that is wrong with the country and the world. It is true that human beings are capable of enormous destruction and unimaginable evil. But it is also true that we are capable of incredible greatness and inspired creation. As a nation, we have lost the belief that we have the ability to positively effect the world.

Let's talk about the so-called 1%. Who are these people, really? I believe there is a difference between who the 1% have come to be, and who they used to be. At present the 1%, if I'm understanding the Occupy Protesters correctly, are all of the rich, greedy corporate monsters who run Wall Street. I think this is rather short-sighted of them. If the 1% are the rich, you'd have to include many more people than just the "corporate monsters". You would have to include actors, athletes, politicians, lobbyists, trust fund kids and "musicians". (I'm using quotes here to distinguish between the true artists who make amazing music and the factory-made pop stars who make garbage.) Out of that list, including the corporate 1%, who has created, invented, contributed anything of value, to the world? I would say, with perhaps a few exceptions, that only the corporate "monsters" are the people who contribute tangible value to our nation and the world.

As we look back in history, the 1% were the philosophers, mathematicians, astronomers, inventors, painters, sculptors, physicists, chemists and others in their respective fields, who pushed the limits of their own minds to produce greatness. They gave us new ideas and technologies, and made it possible for us to believe that such greatness even exists. Some of these people became wealthy, others did not. Their contributions were not often based on the idea that they would become millionaires. They simply knew that theirs was a superior idea or product and desired to share it with the nation or with the world. The market (here we go with Capitalism) decided if it was indeed a superior idea and either embraced it or did not. We used to encourage and inspire these minds to achieve even a higher level of greatness and to contribute a more superior idea to our country. We used to take pride in the ideas and products coming from our United States. What happened? When did things change and for what reason? The greatest minds in our country seem to be lost in a sea of reality television, dirty politics and ever increasing government.

It's time that we embrace our place as human beings on this earth. We have a place above all other creatures. I realize you may need to take a minute to digest that. Yes, humans are greater than animals. I believe that all of nature is special and amazing and that we need to be good stewards of this earth. But humans are more important than polar bears, more important than whales. Humans have the gift of rational thought and emotion. Our brains give us the power to create, to imagine, to reach beyond what we think is possible. Our eyes give what we call beauty to the world. If not for our eyes, our brains, our language, what would beauty be? What would happiness be? It is our individual capacity for interpreting what we see and aspiring to greatness that has created the world we live in. We must embrace it! We must stop believing that we are the source of misery. We are the source of beauty and invention and resourcefulness. We must stop believing that it is wrong to be more intelligent, more talented, more imaginative than other people. We must embrace our individual talents and nurture them. We must stop striving for "equality". We must treat one another with kindness, but we must love our uniqueness. It is time to reclaim our position of greatness in the world, and to begin again to contribute greatness to the world.

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