Great discussion going on last week’s posts about the importance of a congruent philosophy to live by. Now let’s take it the next step: your purpose.
I would suggest that your highest moral purpose is the pursuit of your own happiness. This of course is a foundational principle of Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand. She presented this viewpoint via fictional stories in her books “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged.” And she detailed it more specifically in her non-fiction works like “The Virtue of Selfishness.”
Now talk to most anyone in the herd and they will tell you that selfishness is bad, even evil. They will start mouthing platitudes like “serving others,” “debt to society,” and “serving the greater good.” In fact, with most people, if you even suggest that you are even a little bit selfish, they will ridicule, scold or ostracize you.
You must make your happiness your main purpose in life. It is the only moral thing to do, because if not, it means that you are living for others, and don’t value yourself.
Now you’ve heard this in different contexts before…
Charity begins at home. You must get your own needs met. You have to love yourself before you can love another. Or to quote a character from “The Fountainhead,” “To say ‘I love you,’ one must first know how to use the word ‘I.’”
If you sacrifice your life for another – that is depravity. If you ask another to sacrifice his or her life for you – that is also depraved. And there is nothing more boring that depravity.
Now why do I call it depravity? Because depravity is moral corruption, and nothing is more corrupting to your morals than sacrificing your own esteem, value and worth to another.
Take the abused wife. She sits home all day, cooking and cleaning for her husband. He belittles her when they are alone, and ridicules her in front of friends. Her opinions are irrelevant to him, so she stops even expressing them, content only to nod along with his bombastic and ridiculous statements. She completely gives up on her dreams, and spends her life trying to please him. (Which of course she can never do.)
Could there be anything more corrupting to a human being? I think not. Now let’s suppose she put her own happiness first...
Well we know Mr. Wonderful would be out on his ass in about two minutes. She would only date men who treated her with respect. She would respect herself. She would take better care of her health, dress better, and carry herself with more confidence. She would educate herself or get some kind of training so she could support herself. Maybe she’d open up a business. I could go on, but you get the picture.
Two completely different scenarios, right?
In the first scenario, who can the women help? No one. Including herself. But in scenario number two, she helps a lot of people…
First, believe it or not, she would help Mr. Wonderful by throwing him out. He would start to get the message that he can’t treat others without respect, and that dysfunctional behavior is not rewarded. She could also hold a job or start a business and contribute to the economy and the prosperity of others. And what about if there were kids involved?
Imagine what horrible programming they would get in the first scenario. In scenario number two she could really help those kids, set a healthy example and help them create a real life for themselves. It is only when you take care of yourself first that you are a productive member of society.
Please share your thoughts below. I’m on the way to Korea, so I’ll be offline a while, but will check in on the other side.