|JOSEPH wrote: "A common horror story from Objectivists is how they lost friends or loved ones at the beginning of their new philosophically based lives simply because they didn't see the whole picture."|
My first exposure to Objectivism was as a sophomore in college. A music school friend and I got into a conversation about philosophy, in which I posited something like: "Life doesn't have any meaning if there is no afterlife." You know, the typical argument of the religionists' attempt to corner the market on life's "meaning." My friend looked at me coolly and said, "I know someone who doesn't think that way." I said, "Who?" And she said, "Ayn Rand" and left it at that. She left the room and I never talked with her again.
At one time, this woman was, how shall I say, spirited and fun. Once she discovered Rand, she turned into a cool customer indeed, very unemotional and detached from her friends, including me.
I fear this is the case with many who discover Objectivism. I have seen such people use their enlightenment as a rebel's excuse to demean others, to play the part of the pariah, and to purposely cast themselves as deep thinkers and social outsiders -- the "fashionable nonconformity" from a previous thread on this Web site. Part can be excused as youthful hubris, but like any belief system, Objectivism does attract its share of true believers and true posers.
Afterward, I researched Objectivism on my own (and even wrote my senior thesis on how Rand was pretty much persecuted by the media). I saw nothing in Objectivism that would warrant or even tolerate the maltreatment of others; in fact, I gleaned from it a wonderful new tolerance for others -- for their gifts, for their minds, for their life forces.
And I also came to a sort of realization that, in many ways, a great majority of people in this country are unknowing Objectivist sympathizers -- that the libertarian root is strong in this country, and that most people live a kind of duplicitous life of competing philosophies, but that in the end, heroism, money and accomplishment beat Jesus to the bank.
I don't know if all this qualifies me to be an "Objectivist" and I'm not sure I would accept the honor anyway. I don't like big letters sewn on my threads. But I love my heroes, I love my friends for their virtues, I love my secular, guilt-free life, and I do always strive to treat others with respect -- even if they somehow fall short of the big "O."
(Edited by Jamie Kelly on 12/03, 2:11pm)