From 1961 through 1981, Ayn Rand spoke many times at the Ford Hall Forum, the “nation’s oldest continuously operating free public lecture series.” Earlier this year the Ayn Rand Institute made almost all of these talks available for download, free of charge. I had listened to many of these already (many have been available to stream from Soundcloud), but some were completely new to me.
I set myself the project of listening to them all in chronological order, with the goal of creating blog posts around quotes that might jump out at me. Unfortunately, most of the time when I am listening I am driving and I don’t make a note of where in the recording the quote I want to write about is located. (And often when I do make a mental note, I forget to put it down on paper so I won’t forget it.) Recently though I actually thought to use the voice recorder on Samsung Gear so I actually have the reference to the quote.
Speak, speak and speak. Anywhere, to anyone, in any form you can.
This quote comes from Q&A session following Ayn Rand’s 1971 “The Moratorium on Brains” lecture and comes from her response to being asked project herself into the results from the upcoming 1972 Presidential election. (You can find this question about 20 minutes into the Q&A in the playlist below or 1:12 minutes into the full recording from the ARI website.) She felt that, after Nixon’s traitorous behavior in regards to the principles of freedom in imposing wage and price controls, it really didn’t matter who won the upcoming election. (She had voted for Nixon as the lesser of two evils in 1968 but felt there was no lesser evil in 1971.) She said, “Today’s situation proves why I have been saying for a long time: a country’s practical politics do not determine its fate.” She concludes her answer with:
We still have time. If you ask me how, I would say: speak, speak and speak. Anywhere, to anyone, in any form you can. By which I don’t mean force your views on unwilling listeners. I don’t mean you have to be evangelists and save their souls, but people are in such confusion that whenever you can clarify even one point for them, in your own circle, in a letter to an editor, in a school paper. That is what makes the public opinion of a country. That is what helps people who may be less brave or more ignorant. It helps to bring them out. That is what puts the fear of god in the politician who needs it.
I realized on listening to her answer that this is what I have been trying to do with this blog. Chances are that most people who visit and read my posts are already in some agreement with me, but there is the chance that someone who doesn’t accept the ideas of individual rights and rational self-interest, but has an open mind, will stop by and find some food for thought.
I do confess to being discouraged at times, thinking that my small voice isn’t making, or maybe can’t make, any difference. Then I came across a post on one of my favorite blogs, Caracas Chronicles. The post was about a short film made to highlight the rights violations perpetrated by the Venezuelan government against political prisoners, along with a short discussion of the project by the filmmaker. Near the end of the post, the filmmaker quotes an African proverb which, along with Ayn Rand’s quote, gave me quite a bit of encouragement to begin posting again.
If you think you’re too small to do something important, try to sleep with a mosquito in your room.