“Mr. Rearden,” said Francisco, his voice solemnly calm, “if you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders-what would you tell him to do?”
“I . . . don’t know. What . . . could he do? What would you tell him?”
To keep doing what he knew in his heart to be right, no matter the cost, no matter the struggle.
So in amongst all the stupid idiots claiming that Romney didn’t win because he wasn’t conservative enough (yes, because his economics were more conservative than Reagan’s, his foreign policy was as conservative as Reagan’s and like Reagan he seemed to have a certain libertarian streak for social issues at the federal level…no, not conservative at all) and all the bickering over “demographics are destiny” (possibly the stupidest line I’ve ever heard), I heard a very bleak assessment by Dennis Miler:
I like a country where people bust their tuckus, and I think this country’s gone a long way towards becoming more of a European model. And I would say, once again, read the book, Amity Shlaes’ book, The Forgotten Man. If you are out there now making $45,000 a year, busting your hump, being away from your family because it’s in your hard drive to do the ‘right thing’– the ‘right thing’ changed in this country yesterday. You can get close to that from the government. And I’m telling you, when Nancy Pelosi said ‘kids take some time off, read a book, learn an instrument’ well listen it’s not always about kids, sometimes it’s about these hard working guys out there who I feel sorry for. And I would tell them, get in the hand out line, don’t get in the hand down line anymore—it doesn’t make sense.
I understand where Miller is coming from…all too well. That’s what is so disheartening about this election is that 62 million people voted to ensure that the 300 million in this nation will continue to suffer, continue to struggle, continue to lose what they have made and continue to work for what must seem to no avail. And damn them and their shortsighted grasping evil ways. They voted in a tyrant that will hurt the people of this nation and the world. And it just hurts to see that there is nothing we can do about it right now.
But Miller is wrong; the right thing did not change on Election Day.
The right thing before the election and after is to do what is right. And it will never be right to take something that has been stolen from another person. It will never be right not do everything in your power to make your life, your family’s life and the world around you better through whatever means you have.
I understand what Miller is saying, and I understand why he feels that way. But I cannot give up. It is just not in my nature. I was pretty depressed on Tuesday night and I even briefly took a longer than usual look at all those emails I get with offers to teach overseas (they were still not tempting enough). But what got me through were two things. The first was my faith in the universe that everything happens for a reason and that eventually everything will work out as it should—even if there are periods of extreme pain and suffering.
The second were two quotes.
The first was from one of my preferred British politicians, Tony Blair:
That’s what we’re fighting for. And it’s a battle worth fighting.
And I know it’s hard on America, and in some small corner of this vast country, out in Nevada or Idaho or these places I’ve never been to, but always wanted to go…
I know out there there’s a guy getting on with his life, perfectly happily, minding his own business, saying to you, the political leaders of this country, “Why me? And why us? And why America?”
And the only answer is, “Because destiny put you in this place in history, in this moment in time, and the task is yours to do.”
The quote may have originally been about the war in Iraq, but the sentiment is still true. There is right and there is wrong. There are policies that promote liberty and there are those that promote tyranny. It doesn’t matter if you want the fight or not, if the fight is there and you recognize right from wrong then “destiny put you in this place in history, in this moment in time, and the task is yours to do.”
But what if I just let some else do it?
And that’s where the second quote comes in, from one of the greatest movies ever made: Casablanca.
When asked why we fight, the character of Victor Laszlo gives the perfect answer.
Rick: Don’t you sometimes wonder if it’s worth all this? I mean what you’re fighting for.
Victor Laszlo: You might as well question why we breathe. If we stop breathing, we’ll die. If we stop fighting our enemies, the world will die.
There is right and there is wrong. Good and evil. And every step Obama has made has been in the absolute wrong direction, and I have no faith he’s going to change course. (If he did, hell I’d support him—but I’m not so stupid as to think for one second he will). And thus whatever limited power I have through this blog, through my interactions with others; I have to use to push against this man and the ideology he represents.
Capitalism. Liberty. The Individual. What is Right, and Good, and True, and Just. America. These are things worth fighting for, regardless of whether we win or not. The fight holds its own virtue and is never in vain, for even if we don’t win this battle, or the next, or the next we provide the groundwork for the next person to pick up where we left off.
I’m not terribly convinced I’m going to win this fight in the short run. A miracle could always happen, but only a fool bets on them. But we do what is right because it is right, not because we are assured of winning. Yes there are times to make tactical retreats (which I think everyone forgets Atlas Shrugged was supposed to be, but Rand in her ever inefficient way hammered the let them have what they want point and forgot to hammer harder the point of we need to do this to have a chance to actually win in the long run) but that does not mean give up. So despite the taunting of some trolls, and despite Miller’s depressed statement. I will still be my workaholic self, because to be anything less would not be true to myself and for me would be unethical. And I will continue to use this blog and any other means I can find to advocate for what I believe to be true. Now I’m also going to divert a lot of the energy I’ve put into the blog for the last year into other projects I have neglected…
…but I will not shrug. And I hope I am not the only one.