Individualism and Humility

by Joyce

I am reading Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead.

One thing that I keep thinking about is her glorification of human achievement. In particular, in Part III of the book, Gail and Dominique have a long conversation about how silly it is to feel humbled by nature. Both of them agree that only in the presence of man’s creations is it proper to feel wonder and respect and awe.

Well, Ayn Rand would hate me in this respect, because I’m one of those people who stand under the mountains and feel incredibly small. I walk through redwood groves and think about how we people must look like ants to them, here today, gone tomorrow. I look at footage of post-tornado Joplin (only a few hours from my hometown) and marvel at how easily nature sweeps aside our buildings, as if they’re little more than dust. And then I think of just how pointless it is to build most of the things that we build.

Oh yes, Ayn Rand would read this and hate me. Or feel sorry for me. Or something.

But I do have a point here, methinks. Take the Titanic, the unsinkable ship. Take the Twin Towers, the uncollapsible buildings. Think of how many lives human arrogance has cost. Need I mention Hitler, Stalin, Mao? In Ayn Rand’s fictional world, people can be perfect — Howard Roark can be perfect — but in real life, no one is ever perfect. So a little humility goes a long way.

Just my opinion.