Tuesday, 19 December 2017


Rand has been a powerful influence in shaping how I think about many things, including the opinions of other people and how much that does or doesn’t matter to me. And while age, maturity, experience, and other authors (hat tips are due to Steinbeck, Orwell, Vonnegut, and Murakami) have tempered her extremism, I still find solace in much of what she has to say in the lowest phases of my life.

One of her thesis that I’ve continued to find relevant in its entirety is the psychological profile of Power and what it does to people. The power hungry man is the ultimate second-hander, to borrow a phrase from The Fountainhead. His sense of self-worth entirely dependent on the number of people whose life he can influence and change. And in that sense he is bound tightest by what others want. 

And unfortunately, I’ve seen enough in the last couple of years to agree with this unreservedly. I’ve experienced the hatred that certain people feel when they know they cannot control you and/or influence the direction of your life. The frustration and disappointment that sends them on a senseless rampage. The smugness when they think they’ve had their way; their bewilderment when they find that what they wanted mattered not to you at all; that ultimately it was your choice, for your own reasons, and that you are happy. Then they are not. Despite having gotten what they wanted. Because it was not what they wanted at all. They were not after any specific outcome. Just the chance at power and influence. And so it is not the outcome that gives them satisfaction or Joy, rather their role in it. They’ll hurt themselves and the ones they love the most, if it means they can feel power. They’ll walk over a field full of corpses (to again borrow a phrase, and completely out of context) just to feel worthy of being alive. 

But the worth of life is measured not in how others live their life because of you but in how you live yours. Your experiences, your feelings, your choices. It is measured in the way you feel about yourself because of YOU and not because of what Others think of You, your choices, or your life. Their Judgement of your life is theirs. Relevant in the same way that your judgement of someone else is meant - not for you to change them but for you to decide your terms of engagement with them. Judge, choose, act in favour of outcomes you desire, and let its impact on others’ lives be incidental. 

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