Atlas Shrugged

More than 50 years ago, Ayn Rand wrote a book called “Atlas Shrugged”. (Sorry, no underlining). I find that this book applies today, just as much as it did in 1957. The individual will always be punished by the masses. It doesn’t matter if the issue is Railroads or Autism, innovation or just individuality.

Atlas was a Titan of Greek mythology. He stood larger than the gods and had more personal power than they did. He sided with the Titans, the losing side. His punishment was to hold the sky, keeping it separated from the earth. Later, he was elevated to holding the earth on his shoulders. He’s been a character throughout history, as carrying this huge burden. The idea of him failing- the end of the world? We often use the phrase “carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders”, this is Atlas.

Ayn Rand made him shrug, shattering the social order. As if one person could do that. John Galt did. Or did he? Dagny Taggert, the protagonist, tries to preserve order. She’s assaulted on all sides by forces seen and unseen. John Galt is a mysterious, ephemeral spirit, tugging at the anchors to her world. The government and society ripped her apart, railroad track by railroad track.

But for a moment, we see her exalted as the train and tracks she worked so hard for, were proven, as her train pulled into the destination of the John Galt line. Her success. Her gloriously shining moment, glittering like gold. She had accomplished what most called ‘impossible’.

The visible forces against her were a society and government corrupted by the ideas and money of the weak. The men who politicked with words and money, to take what they had not earned. Government supported the weak, aided the entitled, and punished the individuals who dared to succeed on their own two feet.

The same can be said today. Promotions for the sly of tongue, but inadequate workers. Those who take credit for other’s work, they get promoted on the backs of the hard workers. Politicians who succeed by money and media, not deeds or accomplishments. The people content to live off of welfare, on the backs of the working man.

Who is John Galt? Today’s JG are the people taking whatever job they can, to pay the bills and taxes. They are in the shadow of the poor and the wealthy. They quit innovating, because their worth goes unrecognized. Today’s JG has no utopia in the back roads. Today’s JG can’t disappear. It is not that they are not as smart as the trio of men who brought down the world. They can’t hide or fool too many, the world is bigger than it was, in the story. We are all riding the Internet, like a wave of surfers, failing to notice the ocean swallowing us whole.

John Galt was the most elite. He worked behind the scenes to bring down the corruption on the heads of the corrupt. He planned and succeeded in collapsing the world.

Instead, our world was brought down by greedy men and corporations who thought the wealth was endless. They conned people into a false sense of security. Lives of the working man were sold for the American Dream. Our nation survived because the working man has a strong back. All the foreclosures, lost jobs, cracked companies- they broke the working man’s back. And they wonder why we suffer.

John Galt would’ve been the man who cried foul and shored up his kingdom. He would’ve stepped forward to provide a solution, only to be ignored. The Konrad Kellen of finance. But if these men existed, nobody was listening. Only history a century from now, will be able to see them.

Back to Dagny Taggert- who is today’s Dagny Taggert? Who among the Titans of the world plays fair, fights clean and works hard, with a rigid honesty and clear dream of where we should be? Could such a person even survive in our world?

There are companies out there, declaring their faith in the productivity of Autistic people. I’ve read several articles of companies who would be leaders, by hiring those who see what gets missed, who are labeled as less than ideal. Will they be the next DT? The next victims of a world who has no ability to realize the true wealth of such individuals? They see things as they are and how they should be. Will these gifted, labeled disabled, people be able to survive? Or, will they need a John Galt to show them that the social and societal machinations are simply not worth the effort? Will there be a John Galt to save them?

Who is our John Galt? Who is our Dagny Taggert? Who will fight for the world as it needs to be? As it can be? Is there someone out there to make a place for the individual, the innovators and the hard workers?

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