If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater the effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders — what would you tell him to do? I don’t know. What could he do? What would you tell him? To shrug. – Francisco D’Anconia speaking to Henry Reardon in Atlas Shrugged
I completed this book recently as part of my frenzied foray back into the world of serious “reading” (read: listening to audiobooks). Everything about this book tells me that I should despise it. The misplaced compassion, the pigeonholing of an entire population, and the idea that man is an island unaffected by the decisions of any other members on the Earth. All of these factors guide me in the direction that should cause me to state emphatically that I disagree with Ayn Rand and her philosophical treatise in prose form, Atlas Shrugged, on the destination at which a world overtly concerned with its social obligation must end, but I don’t.
I found myself pulled to such a moment of self realization recently when I discussed with a colleague the emotional abuse she was enduring from one of her literary compatriots. It seemed that whether she agreed with this individual, disagreed on principle or took a stance of non-resistance, she was met with a furor bearing no measure of either logic, reason or understanding. In a manner of minced words, she was very plainly told that her place in this person’s life was as a system of support which in my thinking equates that one is required to nod their head and say amen rather than offer healthy dialogue.
Unfortunately, I have this terrible habit that when someone asks me a question, I am obliged to offer an honest response and dissection of their actions including any such actions that would cause them to return to the circumstances which they are now decrying. This has caused me in life a severe atrophy of friendships for I was not sought out for the oft intense creature of logic that I am, but for my very wide and ever bending ear which allowed those around me to unload their burdens for a passing moment.
I don’t believe that my loyalty is owed to anyone who my discernment has determined to be wrong. If they have enough faith in my powers of consciousness to seek my advice when they can not choose their own path, then they would do best to prepare themselves for any answer that I give them because I have no qualms against leaving a bitter taste on your palate in order to make a point. Had you wanted someone to pour sweet honey over your life plan when it did not pan out, why would you have chosen me to subjugate to such a level?
It occurs to me that Ayn must have been right. Some people live by their ability to cause beings of purpose to insert themselves into the very remedial and worldly affairs diverting them from their true intent. I choose to live beyond that realm. When in Rome, do as the Romans do, consider yourself first.