There is nothing quite like a banquet room filled with gun toting, beer drinking, flag waving, Pledge of Allegiance stating patriots… So went the annual NRA Banquet I attended last night.
During the evening’s events, all were treated to an excellent video presentation by Charleton Heston (taped prior to his intellectual degradation due to Alzheimer’s). It was a moving and motivating 12-minute address regarding the meaning and importance of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. While I will maintain that such Amendments, in fact the whole Bill of Rights, were unnecessary (we should have stopped at the Articles of Confederation) the fact remains that the Second is indeed a reality, as is the U.S. Constitution itself. An uncomfortable reality for some (anti-gunners), and clearly a rallying point for many others such as the rank and file of the NRA.
While I was listening to Mr. Heston so easily and, frankly, remarkably recite his conviction for the freedoms and liberty we ostensibly have as Americans and, in fact, human beings I was reminded of a passage from Ayn Rand. In the spirit, again, of celebrating fifty years of Atlas Shrugged, it is worth noting what she penned in a newsletter in December of 1971; a theme that rings true to the same spirit, and the same call to the defense of individual liberty and freedom that was the underlying theme of Mr. Heston last night:
Is there enough of the American sense of life left in people-under the constant pressure of the cultural-political efforts to obliterate it? It is impossible to tell. But those of us who hold it, must fight for it. We have no alternative: we cannot surrender this country to a zero-to men whose battle cry is mindlessness.
We cannot fight against collectivism, unless we fight against its moral base: altruism. We cannot fight against altruism, unless we fight against its epistemological base: irrationalism. We cannot fight against anything, unless we fight for something-and what we must fight for is the supremacy of reason, and a view of man as a rational being.
These are philosophical issues. The philosophy we need is a conceptual equivalent of America’s sense of life. To propagate it, would require the hardest intellectual battle. But isn’t that a magnificent goal to fight for?
Yes, yes it is! Thank you Ms Rand, and thank you Mr. Heston. Ideas have power, powerful ideas change minds, and minds can only change if they are free. Both of these individuals deeply believed in the concept of intellectual freedom and, as Rand has stated so brilliantly in The New Intellectual:
“Intellectual freedom cannot exist without political freedom; political freedom cannot exist without economic freedom; a free mind and a free market are corollaries.”
My humble advice, discard your pretense to piety – grab your life by the horns and live it as fully and with as much gusto as you can possibly summon. Engage people, cause a stir, live the life you imagine – it is yours for the taking!