Perhaps, in those days, there were a few among men, a few of clear sight and clean soul, who refused to surrender that word. What agony must have been theirs before that which they saw coming and could not stop! Perhaps they cried out in protest and in warning. But men paid no heed to their warning. And they, these few, fought a hopeless battle, and they perished with their banners smeared by their own blood. And they chose to perish, for they knew. To them, I send my salute across the centuries, and my pity."
I have just finished reading Ayn Rand's 'Atlas Shrugged', 'Fountainhead', and most recently, 'Anthem'. The quote above is from 'Anthem'. I have been ruminating over Objectivism ever since, and will write some of my thoughts about that philosophy in another post.
'Anthem' is very short and easy to read. I enjoyed it (I enjoyed all of the Ayn Rand books that I've read!) and will recommend it to you and to both of my daughters as well.
The two paragraphs quoted above struck me. How do we continue to find ourselves facing this same battle, over and over again through history?
It seems to me that most lives lived involve a struggle for learning, trial by error. Making mistakes - learning from them - going back at it until it's right. Hopefully we receive some guidance in our struggles, and then we probably get a few things right before we die. How is it, then, that of all the generations of struggle, making mistakes, learning from them - over and over, lives lived and knowledge passed on, how is it that we find ourselves on that slippery slope once again? Too close to the horrifying possibilities that await - barely able to (hopefully) pull ourselves out?
I agree with the paragraph following the two quoted above:
"Theirs is the banner in my hand. And I wish I had the power to tell them that the despair of their hearts was not to be final, and their night was not without hope. For the battle they lost can never be lost. For that which they died to save can never perish. Through all the darkness, through all the shame of which men are capable, the spirit of man will remain alive on this earth. It may sleep, but it will awaken. It may wear chains, but it will break through. And man will go on. Man, not men."
I agree with it, but despair at the suffering, the horror, the misery of so many if we allow 'I' to be taken from us in some collectivist's wet dream once again. Sure, if the worst happens it won't last forever. But it will last long enough to destroy an untold number of lives. The people who suffered are not nameless, faceless people - they are real and innocent people like you and me and our children. The lesson learned to be forgotten in a couple of generations. The mistake repeated.