What was a book that really made a difference for you as an adult?
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand would be that book. It taught me that critical thinking was the only way through life, that I would have to dig deep into issues, view them from different perspectives, and make informed, balanced decisions. It taught me that others have their own agendas and they don’t make them public to you, but you can figure them out if you listen and watch closely. Often their own selfish nature is disguised as helping others and too often that help is only short-term at best and never actually solves anything.
That whole theme of short-term versus long-term explains a lot of the world’s issues. Should we be focused exclusively on what’s needed today, this week, this month, etc., and not concern ourselves on what happens later on? Conversely, is it wise to ignore all short-term concerns and look only at how it will play out later? These are difficult questions and most often do not have assured positive outcomes in all cases. But focusing on one to the exclusion of the other is a really bad idea.
The book taught me that the notion of greed is viewed backward. The idea that an individual, making their own decisions on what they want to do with the money they’ve earned, is evil, but people that will take others’ money to give to the causes they want is the very definition of good. That is so backward that it should be laughable, except a lot of people actually believe it.
How a book written back in 1957 could ring truer today than it did back then is amazing, and perhaps a bit frightening.