Analyzing page 931 of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” – John Galt’s Speech

Ayn Rand writes:

   “Thinking is man’s only basic virtue, from which all the others proceed. And his basic vice, the source of all his evils, is that nameless act which all of you practice, but struggle never to admit: the act of blanking out, the willful suspension of one’s consciousness, the refusal to think—not blindness, but the refusal to see; not ignorance, but the refusal to know. It is the act of unfocusing your mind and inducing an inner fog to escape the responsibility of judgment—on the unstated premise that a thing will not exist if only you refuse to identify it, that A will not be A so long as you do not pronounce the verdict ‘It is.’

Non-thinking is an act of annihilation, a wish to negate existence, an attempt to wipe out reality. But existence exists; reality is not to be wiped out, it will merely wipe out the wiper. By refusing to say ‘It is,’ you are refusing to say ‘I am.’ By suspending your judgment, you are negating your person. When a man declares: ‘Who am I to know?’—he is declaring: ‘Who am I to live?’

Thought requires voluntary effort. It requires the internal voluntary cooperation between every part of our being. We can be certain that some part of our being is out of alignment with the greater whole, if we refuse to think.

In lieu of significant trauma and psychological damage, we stray away from reality into the comfort of a feigned non-reality. We pretend that existence does not exist; the scars of our past aren’t visible naked on our flesh; today’s circumstances don’t require new solutions to overcome, for we need only rely on our maladjusted outdated adaptations to trauma we refuse to acknowledge exists.

Self-knowledge is required, without exception, to achieve self-actualization. If knowledge is power, self-knowledge yields self-power.

Refusal to pursue self-knowledge is a choice. It’s yields the unfortunate fate of of every man and woman you’ll never know or care to remember of the 7,000,000,000+ living today: emptiness treading shallow waters without even a shadow of legacy left its wake.

Not thinking is an act of self-annihilation.

My refusal to think of the reality of my circumstances has no bearing on my circumstances. If I choose to ignore the entropy, wrongdoings, and evil in my life, I’m choosing non-life as my standard of value. If I value life, I must accept the burden of responsibility that Good people hold to combat Evil in the world. I must choose to have generative thoughts be predominant in my mind and flourish, lest degenerative ones take root and fester.

Ayn Rand continues:

    “This, in every hour and every issue, is your basic moral choice: thinking or non-thinking, existence or non-existence, A or non-A, entity or zero.“

“To the extent to which a man is rational, life is the premise directing his actions. To the extent to which he is irrational, the premise directing his actions is death.“

Life is excruciatingly difficult, more so the greater the mind you possess.

We see unthinking, sleepwalking people all around us. It’s easy to imagine that their sleepwalking grants us implicit permission to sleep at the wheel. It does not. Choosing not to think only drives brilliance into disturbed, anxious, twisted fragile non-reality. Our life’s challenges don’t evaporate proportionally to our effort to imagine we’re not drenched in them.

Only the light of reason, focused with laser like intensity by the force of one’s mind, can spot-treat a life drenched in malady. Slowly, with time, we can consciously become aware of the root causes of the root causes of our superficial problems.

It takes years of dedication and commitment. It’s not an easy path. The choice to use your mind for self-improvement is the foundation of all virtue. The choice to become self-aware is the foundation of all self-actualization and fulfillment your soul can know.

We must choose: life or death?

What motivates my behavior?

Remember, the man who declares: “Who am I to know (myself)? declares “Who am I to live?”.