Her name was Nicky Romashko. Though I'm having a hard time remembering our ages (probably about 10), it was sometime during grade school that I experienced my first love. If you'll allow me the pun, it was quite a rush.
I rode my bike to her house that evening. We went up to her room, closed the door, got comfortable on her floor, and... turned on the music. It was her favorite band, and one I had never before heard. The album was 2112. The band was Rush.
I was entranced by it. It wasn't so much the sound itself, but - oh! - the words. They spoke volumes to me. (As you allowed the first pun...) The series of songs composed a story about an evil government (i.e., the priests of the Temple of Syrinx) who suppress music in its attempt to suppress thought and speech. A man finds a hidden guitar and starts to ask questions. It's a beautiful story about a man who learns to think for himself, only to be told by government that to do so was "silly" and "ancient." What I find intriguing is that I loved the story even though, at the time, I knew nothing about power-hungry government and the unimaginable horrors that it inflicts on unarmed individuals. Though I also had no solid understanding of morality or philosophy at the time, the music clearly had significant meaning to me, so much so that I still vividly remember the childhood event. Through the years, I continued to purchase Rush albums.
As human beings, it is aprioristic that we are free to make our own choices.
Fast forward 20 years. I learned from a girlfriend that the members of Rush were admirers and advocates of Ayn Rand and her philosophy (2112 is based on her second novel Anthem, and I've read Rand's seminal works The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged many, many times since). Though I only read her books for the first time as an adult, her words described, for the most part, how I had always lived my life since I was a child. I was always considered different from the 'mainstream' and Rand's books helped me organize the reasoning why. I remember immediately going to the Web to confirm her claim. Sure enough. I relished in the consistency of my music and philosophy.
Back while working in Japan, I had a 30-minute commute from my apartment to my office. So I splurged and purchased an IPod. Besides the ability to easily listen to most of my CD collection, the IPod allows you to download lyrics. There are some tools out there that will automatically fix your mp3 tags and download lyrics. As I walked to work, I'd been reading the lyrics of the music. Randomly, my IPod played one of my old Rush favorites: Freewill. Though the sound is enjoyable, the real value is derived in the words:
There are those who think that life has nothing left to chance,
A host of holy horrors to direct our aimless dance.
A planet of playthings,
We dance on the strings
Of powers we cannot perceive
'The stars aren't aligned,
Or the gods are malign...'
Blame is better to give than receive.
You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice.
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill;
I will choose a path that's clear
I will choose freewill.
There are those who think that they were dealt a losing hand,
The cards were stacked against them; they weren't born in Lotusland.
A prisoner in chains
A victim of venomous fate.
Kicked in the face,
You can't pray for a place
In heaven's unearthly estate.
Each of us
A cell of awareness
Imperfect and incomplete.
With uncertain ends
On a fortune hunt that's far too fleet.
As human beings, it is aprioristic that we are free to make our own choices. Leaving our "fate" to others, by definition, requires someone else to pull the "strings." As Ludwig von Mises argues, all thought and action are individualistic. Certainly, we are influenced and guided by others, and we must be careful of those who attempt to force our actions, who deceive us through "phantom fears," who distort kindness into actions that kill. But there can be no valid argument that the choice is not, ultimately, our own.
As occurred in the Soviet Union, America is rotting away from within - politically, economically, and morally - because many of us refuse to acknowledge our own choices. However, our history gives us longer coattails to ride upon. While the politicians are having their good times destroying our freedoms, economy, and values, we can still choose to save ourselves. For, our individual choices can, and often do, destroy another's life. Ergo, we must be careful who we look to for influence and guidance. Clinton, Bush, Obama, et al. are just a few examples of many who demonstrate immorality at the head of government. Yet, somehow, we choose not to care about the moral issues and implications. As a result, we become victims of our own self-deception. (Who needs politicians as enemies when we have ourselves?) We live in times of illusion and our needed revolution may not happen politically because people choose to be indifferent. We are prisoners of our own chains - the chains of indifference.
Ironically, religion is proffered as moral stability. Yet religion, especially that which is supported by many Christian conservatives, is one of the foundations that the neo-cons use as part of their world domination plans. Why is the religious right looking for a savior in government? Is that what the Bible teaches them? Radical Islamists thought people would follow their ideals when they killed politicians - yet, the people refused to rise up. So the radical Islamists then killed randomly, likely believing that the people's indifference proved they had become corrupt. Is this support for Plato's claim that religion is a noble lie and is really used to ensure social order? Is violence really the only way to awaken people from their choice (or, more appropriately, their quest) to remain ignorant? I think individual freedom is a foundational moral value, with freewill as the more effective and efficient moral stabilizer.
Indifference is THE underpinning of all moral catastrophes. Let the "powers we cannot perceive" attempt to make us dance to their choice of music. I'll continue to choose my own beat, thank you very much. "I will choose freewill."
My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.
My philosophy, Objectivism, holds that:
- Reality exists as an objective absolute—facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.
- Reason (the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses) is man’s only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.
- Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.
- The ideal political-economic system is laissez-faire capitalism. It is a system where men deal with one another, not as victims and executioners, nor as masters and slaves, but as traders, by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit. It is a system where no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force, and no man may initiate the use of physical force against others. The government acts only as a policeman that protects man’s rights; it uses physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use, such as criminals or foreign invaders. In a system of full capitalism, there should be (but, historically, has not yet been) a complete separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.
- Ayn Rand
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