Monday, January 02, 2012

Part III: Yes, I'm still reading Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead" and I have found some more "gems".

I've tried, several times mind you, to convince myself that I really should not waste my time reading "The Fountainhead".  But alas, being the disciplined person I am, I keep on trucking, having now read 239 pages already.  Once I start a job, I like to finish it.   Who knows, I may just find something she says that can help me think more clearly about what I believe.

Thus was the case with two of her statements in the portion of the novel I read since blogging Part II of the series on her book.

On page 231, one of her key characters, soon after being assaulted by someone, declares, "When one makes enemies one knows that one's dangerous where it's necessary to be dangerous." And then as if to justify his thoughts (or are they the author's thoughts?) she has him continuing, "There are things that must be destroyed -- or they'll destroy us."

Well, let's look at her first statement, "When one makes enemies one knows that one's dangerous where it's necessary to be dangerous."  A nice sentiment and possibly true in some cases, but not always, and I'd even hazard to say, not often.  Yet, I can't help but agree with her intention her.  In fact, that is the only time we should have enemies -- when we and they disagree on something of importance.  It must be in circumstances and on issues for which we must take a strong stance.  This is true of individuals, both Christians and unbelievers.  It is also true of organizations who stand up for something.  And, it is true of entire nations.  One's enemies should only be those that were attained because one stood up for what really mattered.  Alas, that is not the case, and thus we're in more messes than we really want or need.

It is only through this ability to stand up, that one has a chance of being perceived as both credible and an equal, worthy to be heeded and to cause one's enemies to rethink their own position of animosity towards us.  Not standing up in times like this cause our enemies to see us as weaklings who deserve both to be taken advantage of as well as of being ridiculed and relegated to the insignificant category of individuals, organizations, or nations.

It is these two options that America and the West currently have when it comes to Iran's flexing of her military muscles and her defiance of all global requests to stop pursuing nuclear arms.  (In fact today, after presenting her first nuclear fuel rod to the world proving she can do what she says, offered to sit down to talks about her nuclear programs.)  Will the West go along with Iran's suggestion or will it take a stronger stance and let Iran know we mean business?  Regrettably, Iran knows they need to make hay while the Obama administration, which is known for backing down when it comes to terrorist Muslim countries, is still in power.  So don't expect anything startling from the U.S. on this at this time.

Let me turn now to the second part of Rand's quotation, namely, "There are things that must be destroyed -- or they'll destroy us."  Once again, I think she's got that right.  Diseases must be found and eliminated or they'll kill us.  Serial killers must be pursued and either killed or incarcerated or they'll continue to destroy.  I would add poverty to that group of things that should be destroyed, although I know that it will not be.  And so on.  But to that list, we must add the slow but sure movement across the world of radical terrorist Islamists as a political ideology, and/or non-tolerant extremist faction of its religious movement, which openly declares its hatred for and its desire to eliminate, both Israel and the United States off the face of the earth.  This movement (radical terrorist jihadism) cannot and must not be allowed to exist.  We must co-exist with moderate, peace-loving Muslims, who tolerate the rest of us.  We cannot co-exist with those that want to destroy us.  Ayn Rand is right.

(Let us not confuse the above with the love and acceptance that we must show to the majority of Muslims who are not terrorists, or radical Islamists, or jihadists.  However, as long as they too remain silent and do not denounce publicly and openly, and even at great personal costs, their Muslim brothers who are terrorists, radicals, or jihadists, then we cannot expect the ordinary man and woman to embrace them and their religion as a peaceful one.  It does not compute.  Right now there is a huge disconnect between "Islam as a peaceful religion" and everything we see done in the name of Islam against Christians, Jews, and even moderate Muslims.  Somebody must clarify for the world just what exactly Islam stands for.)

On page 237 of "The Fountainhead", Rand has one character named Keating asking another, named Ellsworth Toohey, about a third character.  Keating asks: "Ellsworth . . .  what do you think of Roark?"  And the reply came back, "Roark?  Roark?  Who is Roark?"

Rand's next paragraph is quit amazing in demonstrating her ability to judge human characters and reactions.  Rand writes (emphasis is mine), "The too innocent, too trifling manner in which he (Toohey) repeated the name, with the faint, contemptuous question mark quite audible at the end, made Keating certain that Toohey knew the name well.  One did not stress total ignorance of a subject if one were in total ignorance of it."

Have you ever noticed that?  I have.  Rand is bang on again.  This observation is in line with the one we all have heard which says, "me thinks you do protest too much".  Our words and staged surprise often give us away to the discerning observer.  It seems that lying is just not a totally natural human behavior.  We weren't created to lie, but we find it so convenient.  The problem is we are not good at it.

I'll keep on plowing through "The Fountainhead" and when I find some more 'gems' worthy of discussion, I'll share them with you.  So, stay tuned.

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