Sunday, December 19, 2010

To Us Alone

There is no life for men, save in useful toil for the good of all their brothers. But we lived not, when we toiled for our brothers, we were only weary. There is no joy for men, save the joy shared with all their brothers. But the only things which taught us joy were the power we created in our wires, and the Golden One. And both these joys belong to us alone, they come from us alone, they bear no relation to our brothers, and they do not concern our brothers in any way. Thus do we wonder.
Ayn Rand, Anthem, (New York: Quality Paperback Book Club, 1995), 76.
I continue to be amazed at how much Ayn Rand pushes the doctrine of personal satisfaction as the goal of life. And yet as much as I want to argue with her, she brings up a valid point. What are the things that truly bring us "life" and "joy"? Are they not the things which satisfy ourselves and fill our own cups? Do the things that contribute to society as a whole really bring us greater joy then the things we do which satisfy ourselves? What is the balance needed between working hard and spending time on things which bring us personal joy and those things which contribute to "our brothers" around us? Is it possible to concentrate on the things which bring us greatest joy - and have those things 'trickle down' to those around us?

I have a hard time agreeing with her point of wonder, and yet I can understand where it is coming from. Many things that I like to do (reading, running, naps, etc) are for myself. Does this make them wrong? Perhaps what is necessary is to strive to find the balance of filling ourselves while remembering that to love one another is our greatest contribution. God certainly wires us to love certain activities - so it cannot be wrong to indulge in them. But when our focus becomes completely on ourselves we lose touch with reality.