Want to destroy The World? Keep your thoughts to yourself.

One of the things that I try to be very aware of is what I encourage, as well as I what I discourage. Both actions can be done directly by speech and action, and both can be done indirectly, by what is not said and by actions not taken. When I talk to people about things that they believe in, and how those things fit in with their everyday lives, I like to get into the area of discussion I like to call The Danger of Being Neutral.

The Danger of Being Neutral simply states that if you can realize that something is right, and not wrong, then you should follow that course. It states that since you know the difference between right and wrong, that anything even a little bit wrong can never be right. That means that you can never compromise with something that is wrong. A compromise between right and wrong only encourages what is wrong by making allowances for it, and discourages what is good by not supporting it fully.

For example, a person can’t cheat on their spouse a little bit. A person can’t steal a little bit. A person can’t kill people a little bit. There’s no such thing as being a little bit raped. The average person understands this. But all too often, I see people make exception, either for their own sake, the sake of someone else, or even worse, just for the sake of argument or discussion. It’s funny, how all of a sudden, it can be okay to cheat, lie, steal, rape, murder, because, you know, everything is not black and white. Or maybe what’s okay for one person may not be okay for another.

Here’s what my simple solutions are:

  • If you don’t know what the difference between good and evil (white and black as they try to call it), go learn it. Even if you don’t care about such things, in your life, you will not be able to escape the consequences of the actions of good and evil people.
  • Now, reflect deeply and stop kidding yourself. Find out what your passions and convictions are. Determine where you stand, and then stand your ground. If you find some sort of contradiction, examine your premises (my favorite line from Atlas Shrugged) and then resolve them. You’re going to need a strong sense of self in order to…
  • Speak out when you see something that you think is wrong. You pretty much have to do it. The beautiful thing about being rational is that you don’t have to disrespect someone in order to disagree with them. What usually works best is saying “I disagree.” Remember that if you remain silent, you imply consent. If you say or do nothing about something that you believe to be wrong, you encourage the wrong act, and discourage the right act at the same time.

This is what I call The Danger of Being Neutral. Ayn Rand called it The Cult Of Moral Grayness. It means you have to take a stand. Stop being that neutral person, because your neutrality will not help anyone. People can talk about being “neutral” or “keeping their thoughts to themselves” but the problem is, they can’t live that way. They won’t. I promise you that if someone were trying to defraud you, defame you, rape you, kill you, and some bystander was there that could help, you would understand in a second what I’m talking about here: The Danger of Being Neutral.

For more on this, read Ayn Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness, Chapter 9: The Cult of Moral Grayness.

“…cut my heartbeat with a knife”

I was floored. Again. When these things happen, I usually call someone for support. The problem is, they don’t usually answer the phone. I was left with the sensation of having been hollowed out. Having my innards removed, reduced to what is only on the outside, and then being confronted with the simple question: What are you all about?

Allow me to back up. There are a few books that I read over and over and over again. It’s getting to be a bad habit, because I can’t get around to the other books that I want to read that I haven’t yet. The first one I’ll mention on my read over list is Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. I draw heavily from her philosophy, if not entirely, and this book, for me, is literally an experience of Rand herself, giving me one-on-one guidance on the lessons it contains. Then we have The Fountainhead, written by the same author. This book contains many of the lessons in AS, but (in my opnion) on a smaller scale. Lately, I’ve been viewing FH as a sort of love story. A man in love with what he does best, in love with the power of his mind, in love with the only woman that could love him, and what he does in support of the things that he loves.

Then we get to Zora Neale Hurston, and what is probably her most famous book, Their Eyes Were Watching God. Now this, this is a love story. It’s not one of those perfect love stories. It’s about a person who is looking for love, love that comes without being a slave to it, without having to compromise yourself to another. The love that is featured in this story is about a mutual adoration, admiration, respect, and desire for one another, the kind that jolts you when you first set eyes on someone, and still jolts you everytime you see them. But, in this story, even when that happens, love’s not perfect, and you still have to be yourself, first and foremost. I don’t know whether Love or Independence is the greater theme of TEWWG. Another one of her books, Seraph On The Suwanee, is a different kind of love story. When I read this one, it cuts rather deep. It’s one of those stories about a person who does everything in their power to show how much they love another person, literally everything. When the other person doesn’t get it, what is there to do? How do you continue to grow, when all of your best efforts are not only misunderstood, but barely appreciated, if even acknowledged? This is a rather dismal premise, but I assure you, our two lovebirds work it out in the end. I like this one because again, you have a wonderful love story without any fantasy.

Now, we get to what I just finished reading again last night: Toni Morrison’s Song Of Solomon. I find it simply amazing that an author has the ability to not only convey, but evoke so much emotion in the use of written words. I don’t know quite how to describe this book. It’s not indescribable, I just don’t have the words in my head yet. I don’t like it for the fact that it forces me to reflect upon my own lineage, my heritage, my upbringing, and it makes my wonder about what sort of legacy I will leave for future generations. I don’t like to ponder my past too much – “what’s done is done” is how I feel about it. I don’t really think that things that previous generations of my family have done in the past can affect me, but that remains to be seen. I don’t like thinking too far ahead about my future, because I feel like I still have to carve out a path for myself in this world. My weakness, if any, is that at my age, I’m still trying to realize what exactly my strengths are, and where they will take me. All of these things are running a marathon in my mind right now. Thank you, Toni Morrison.