Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Atlas Shrugged - food for thought

I am working on this international bridge project with Canada and every time I am in a meeting with the folks from across the border, I think Oh! I have to document this wonderful feeling and how if people wish they can find their way around bureaucracy and get the job done.
As it is my work contain several layers of regulations, some overlapping and others not but many that may facilitate and document a process while others present themselves as a road block. I have never chosen to discuss the nature of my work before but after reading Ayn Rand's 'Atlas Shrugged',  I am thinking more and more about the nature of my work, my work ethics and most importantly where do I fall in the line of characters that she chose to depict the story with.

I loved the book and it has really made me think, and think critically about the way I think but I don't agree with her philosophy. I disagree with her as much as I disagree with Dalai Lama's book about eight steps to enlightenment. In that book he preaches that when in doubt about your action think of the masses versus thinking about you as an individual. I disagree with that because it assumes that when an individual will think, he/she will think about his/her selfish interest which in turn would conflict with the well-being of the masses. Well, doesn't that doubt the basic goodness of human nature? And my other point is you cannot make anybody else happy unless the voice from within urges you to do something without expectations of any gains. And if you beat the self for the cause that you believe in sooner or later, it will develop into regrets and grudges. The life is for living and our purpose is to live it the best and we can do that only with our life no body else's.

In Ayn's words : 'My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.'

I agree with this line of thinking but that for a human being to develop a sound moral code, it will have to go through a process. That process starts out long before the productive achievement phase of the life kicks in and that while that being grows, it is enveloped and molded by inputs from the outer world that might not give it the regard that a new life deserve because it is based on self interest. And it would be in their self-interest to be a better person and better role model but they might not be evolved enough to see it at that stage in life and this is where society steps in and tries to set decorum of normal people that can provide an average safety net to all concerned.

I guess, you can see where I am going with this, if you have read this book you know that I belong to the  section that the author despises the most in her philosophy; the one who adopts the middle path. I don't claim to know everything but I know for sure that life is not black and white, there are many grey spots. There are no absolutes, everything is relative and the basis of those values and insecurities start forming a solid foundation long before a child is independent enough to evaluate them, judge them. And these continue long into our adulthood...

I strongly disagree with judging anybody, any situation because I start with the assumption that there are things that lay outside of my realm of understanding and unless I have experienced them for myself I cannot generalize it. And the book proves itself wrong when it is talking about the conflict between science and religion and then relates it to the mystics of India or of the orient. The two major inherent religion of the east that I am familiar with actually have no conflict with science. Actually science and logic and mathematics and medicine is part of the ancient religious scriptures and was taught as part of religious education. She kept criticizing Indian spiritual beliefs based on then popular trends. And so that proves my point you cannot judge something without actually knowing it in depth and experiencing it.

Yes, I did take it personally when she kept trashing Indian mystics against the science when she didn't have any knowledge about what she was talking, but that was a personal judgement.

Anyways, so as I sat in this meeting today about building a bridge spanning across the two nations and figured out the layers and layers and regulations and hoops that we'll have to jump through, it brought me to the book and that sometimes government can be all that she talked about in the book but at other times I seek shelter under its 'socially progressive' policies and totally stand by them. It is because of their socially progressive policies that I was able continue to work outside of home after giving birth to my daughter... so I owe it to them. And I choose to take a middle path, where I negotiate my way out of situation and continue to work with the system and make it work for me rather than ask for ideal situation before I put my mind to good use.

I guess, my two cents ran a little too long.... 

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