Great Judgment Day Quote

From Judgment Day by Nathaniel Branden:

We had an extraordinary vision to offer, a radiantly rational one, I believed then. Today I am convinced there are errors in that vision, elements that need to be changed, eliminated, modified, added, or amplified, but i am still convinced there is much in that vision that will stand.

We did not tell our students that the mind is impotent. We did not tell them that they were rotten or powerless. We did not tell them that life is futile, or that they were doomed, or that existence is meaningless. We told them just the opposite. We told them that their main problem was that they had not learned to understand the nature of their power -- therefore, of their own possibilities. We told them that their mind was and could be efficacious, that they were competent to understand, that genuine knowledge was attainable, that achievement and happiness were possible. We told them that life was not about dread, defeat, and anguish but about struggle, triumph, and exaltation.

This message ran counter not only to the dominant religious and philosophical teachings most of them were exposed to, but, no less important, it ran counter to the teachings of most of their parents. Their parents, who said, "So who's happy?" "Pride goeth before a fall." "Adventure is for the comic strips; who do you think you are, Buck Rogers?" " Real life is learning to make your peace with boredom." "Life is not about exaltation, life is about duty."

And then along came Ayn Rand who said, "Oh, really?" and proceeded to create characters who did not live in the Middle Ages or in outer space, but who were of our time and of this earth -- characters who work, struggle, pursue difficult career goals, fall in love, participate in intensely emotional relationships, and for whom life is a great adventure because they have made it so. Characters who face opposition, endure hardships, suffer, struggle, persevere -- and who, predominantly, win.

Ayn Rand created the characters he refers to in her novels; they inspired untold thousands of people, myself included, to take their own lives seriously.

But Nathaniel Branden took it a step farther: he recognized that some of these motivated individuals were likely to run into a variety of "speed bumps" on the road to meaningful lives. Difficulties could come from outside, from a culture that values the group over the individual; they could also come from within, from negative messages and beliefs and attitudes absorbed from a negative society. He made a successful career out of developing solutions for those faced with these kinds of problems.