Saturday, December 17, 2011
“To the Genius of Ayn Rand”
As a young high school kid, trying to learn to play the guitar, I remember reading those words on the back of a Rush album, 2112. I loved the album, but at the time, I didn’t fully understand the sentiment.
Years later, as a young musical entrepreneur, I finally got a copy of “Atlas Shrugged”, and read it. I found parts of it very inspiring. The parts, in particular, that talked about diligence, hard work, vision, and self-reliance.
There were parts of the book that didn’t ring true. Like the notion that people would sit, transfixed by their radios, as a man droned on for literally hours (chapters) about ecomonic theory. In this day and age? No way: “Who the %$^* is John Galt? Dude, what channel is ‘Jersey Shore’ on?”
Fast forward may years, and Ayn Rand has become a political figure again, galvanizing the new right right wing. Meanwhile, I’ve become a father of a boy with multiple medical issues, Cystic Fibrosis and Cerebral Palsy among them. I’m learning that when dealing with such issues, self-reliance simply isn’t an option. The costs are too astronomical.
Then, today, I read that the poster-girl for the new libertarian right actually accepted Social Security and Medicaid (read here and here), my first reaction was a cynical, “Ha! See? It gets to us all eventually!” I read the articles, and many of the vicious comments. She was slammed as a hypocrite, and as a phony. Others defended their idol, claiming that because she paid into these systems by force, she was entitled to draw from them as well.
I felt saddened, more than anything. Ayn Rand was a genius in her own way, in that she formed her ideas and shared them in a way that impacted the world. I disagree with her vision, but I do admire her nonetheless. At the end, I saw a picture of a woman who was confronted with the choice between practical reality and her ideals. In “Atlas Shrugged” she was able to create her own world, a utopia where her theories worked perfectly. But here in the real world, it doesn’t always happen that way.