Today we toast the centennial of a giant — in thought, character, and sense of life.
Ayn Rand has touched the lives and ignited the minds of millions of people around the globe. Her words are timeless, as are her ideals. Her implacable respect for clear thinking has encouraged others to seek truth in the world around them, and to craft lives based on a foundation of integrity, conviction, and a commitment to reason.
Rand’s moral defense of individualism and capitalism has been an inspiration to leaders in business, government, the arts, and anywhere else one can see the sparks of integrity and intelligence melded into productive action. Her celebration of the individual compelled men and women of the mind to face the gray cloud of mediocrity and say: “Not in my name.”
When I discovered her work a decade ago, I knew I had reached an important moment of truth. Her words resounded with such a powerful “Yes!” inside me that I had to know the reasons why I felt understood.
Perhaps, like me, after reading Atlas Shrugged you felt more compelled to mold the world to your own ideals; or The Fountainhead inspired you to walk a bit taller. Or maybe, as I did, you found a soul-mate in the character of Francisco d’Anconia. Such experiences often change the course of a human life.
Ayn Rand set out to spark the minds of those seeking the heroic in mankind. Her novels and non-fiction have now been embraced by three generations looking for better answers, and her ideas continue to be championed by those whose voices can be heard in academia, science, and the media.
That her books remain bestsellers more than fifty years after their publishing only underscores the depth of her impact. The rapid growth of a community like the Atlasphere, the proliferation of discussion sites across the internet, the number of books being published about Rand, and even references to her in pop culture, all demonstrate how widespread the response has been.
Her words are a call to action for those who welcome challenges and attack them with fervor. And when such mountains seem unscalable, the echo of those words provides fuel for another day:
Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it’s yours (Atlas Shrugged, p.979).
Happy hundredth birthday, Ayn Rand. From a little girl who once dreamed of great things, and discovered they need not remain in dreams alone.
Jennifer Iannolo is an editor and columnist for the Atlasphere. She is also an accomplished food professional, and the publisher of Gastronomic Meditations, a web site celebrating the pleasures of the palate. Jennifer's culinary adventures were recently chronicled in the NY Times Bestseller Secrets of the Young & Successful.