Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I Am John Galt.

As I have started to become more active in the realm of social media and the many varying social media websites I have continued to use a common thread through each one of my connecting network accounts: my avatar. If you have found your way to connecting with me on any of my other social networks (and I encourage you to feel free to do so) you will no doubt have noticed my "I am John Galt." avatar. Recently as I have begun to meet more and more new people through social media, I am beginning to get more questions in regards to it; some positive, some negative. I decided that I would take a moment to address and explain this.

The first thing that will help is to explain its origin for those who don't know its reference. John Galt is the lead character in a fiction novel called Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I will divulge as little as possible surrounding the actual storyline as I will now take the time to strongly urge you to take the time to pick up this novel. It is intimidating in size but do not be discouraged; you will be happy you read it. Back to John Galt. John Galt's character is some surreal combination of Einstein smashed together with Aristotle (this is just my opinion, not any official description) in that he is as much a philosopher as he is a physicist. This combination of how to think and what to think is the foundation of his heroism in his role as the hero of the novel. SEMI-SPOILER. Galt, realizing the decline of society and morality goes on strike from the world. Though he has the ability to save the world physically through his technology, he chooses to remain hidden, on strike because the world will not change its morality. His mission is to convince the men and women of ability to join him on his strike from humanity to teach a valuable lesson on morality.

Atlas Shrugged, like most all of Rand's books preaches that the ultimate morality lies in selfishness; the importance of the individual and the love of oneself. Now, on the outside this comes across as perhaps a negative; it is not. Rand wrote in a different time; in a different world. If she were present today she would be appalled by the state of the world. She would most certainly agree that capitalism, her ideal, was long since dead and replaced by corporatism. She would also, I am certain, be against the Occupy movement.

This is where I address the "obvious glaring contradiction" that has been brought to my attention several times: my involvement in a movement that demands a Robin Hood; Rand's most hated fictional character. Please read 'The Money Speech' to understand that statement and to see how money should truly be viewed as. So you now see the irony or contradiction here: I "advertise" individualism and selfishness through my "branding" but yet appear to preach about collectivism and brotherly-love. 

The problem with most any misunderstanding is a lack of communication: either purposeful or unintentional. In this case it is unintentional and I will now clarify. I am two parts to a single whole. I believe undeniably in the importance of the individual and of rational-selfishness. I also believe in the necessity and importance of a collective and for empathy. These two things, though outwardly seem to be opposing forces, are but two parts to a single force necessary to find a more rational and natural code of ethics.

For a long time, I embraced the collective ideal. That ultimately, the importance of the collective surpassed that of the individual. When I finished Atlas Shrugged for the first time, I had a complete reversal on this position. I came to believe that individualism and rational self-love was the most important trait a person could have. What I have now come to realize is that one is useless without the other. An individual can live almost an entire lifetime alone once a certain age is reached; however they must still be part of a collective for at least the beginning: the family. The family is the basis of foundation for any type of larger collective or society. The collective is a requirement of survival; if only temporary. However, it should be noted that however independent an individual may become, their success is limited to their own knowledge. They lose the benefit of a collective consciousness.

Understanding that individualism and collectivism are two parts to a single whole is essential to the development of humanity if it wishes to move past its own internal conflicts (both as societies and as individuals). When one possesses an even share of respect, love, admiration and importance for the individual and the collective, one learns the value of both and thus learns and develops the code of morality required for living, interacting and existing with oneself; ones collective; and ones environment.

So I understand the seeming contradiction in seemingly opposing ideals but that is the key communication that we must mutually understand: I do no see them as opposing each other but complimenting each other. Perhaps the complexities of the human mind are that they are simple. I love my life and love for life; I also value the life of others and respect their love for it. I think this is indispensable in human social development.

I am what I think John Galt might be (idealistically) in today's world.