Interesting story about what prompted this post, as it was my recent research on Ayn Rand, and her books. After learning, quite a few people were disturbed at how l was spending my time. I heard comments like, “you’re an objectivist?,” or “l can’t believe you would waste your time.” Well if your current choice of reading correlated to your views, then l am guilty of being an objectivist. However, my belief it that there needs to be a constant quest for knowledge, and as you expand your knowledge you also expand your views on the world, this will always lead to positive change.
Here’s what l can say about Ayn. She was a visionary, based on her ability to articulate views on her surroundings and the world she lived in, as it enlightened many people. At the same time her material was so controversial for the time that she had many people who detested her based on these same views. Ironically, these foes assisted her in propagating her message through continued discussion. Some might say that she was a pioneer of viral messaging and disruptive advertising.
She held firm to her beliefs and never gave up, as evidenced by her persistence and consistency of message. Her behaviour on the other hand l will challenge later in the discussion. The Fountainhead was rejected by more than 12 publication houses before if finally went to print. It was only through her diligence that this was made possible as she never quit. This post is not meant to be used as a historical portrayal of her life or work, as the topic is more focused on how one person’s views can have significant influence on the masses.
So in this time of social interaction and virtual collaboration we need to respect the views of each person and understand the uniqueness that everyone provides. Rand believed that the only way a person could truly be happy was to capitalize on the virtue of selfishness, while others believe that the only path to happiness is through selflessness or altruism. Before l continue here are definitions of each courtesy of our friends at Wikipedia:
Altruism /ˈæltruːɪzəm/ is a concern for the welfare of others. It is a traditional virtue in many cultures, and a core aspect of various religious traditions, though the concept of ‘others’ toward whom concern should be directed can vary among cultures and religions. Altruism is the opposite of selfishness.
Now, I don’t purport to be a master of philosophy or theology, but here is my view and question. Is selfishness and selflessness mutually exclusive? Could it be that in order to be happy, truly happy, there needs to exist phases in individual development? Many of the “enlightened” leaders, sages of the ages had periods of self-reflection, often in solitude. Did this not require a detachment from society, responsibilities, families? But their reflection, led to actualization, which progressed to self-realization.
As a result of this ”sacrifice,” as some have come to define it, led to a period of selflessness. Whereby, they shared their views and learning, to others so that they may benefit. Maybe at a deeper level so that they did not have to endure the sacrifice or selfishness which they themselves faced. Is this not what Ayn tried to do in the latter part of her life? Explain objectivism to the masses. So, was she not in effect contradicting her own belief system with these acts of selflessness? Unsure, still researching…maybe it was purely capitalism, or her ego wanting to leave a lasting legacy.
So back to the point, can it be a process? Let’s face it if we were all selfless, there would be less consumerism and more charity, but everything has a time and a place. As individuals we need to be happy, whatever way that may take shape, and once we reach that phase we are then prepared to share. At least that’s what l’d like to believe. So buy the brand, eat the meal, meditate in solitude and just plain enjoy life. Remember three things: 1) We will each go through this process at different rates 2) Happiness is transferable and 3) When you’re ready to give, GIVE FREELY.
As l have mentioned in earlier posts, how we develop as individuals can be related to organizations and cultures, so think about how this topic can relate to the bigger picture.