1974 West Point Address by Ayn Rand
Since I am a fiction writer, let us start with a short story.
you are an astronaut whose spaceship gets out of control and
crashes on an unknown planet.
When you regain consciousness and
find that you are not hurt badly, the first three questions in your mind
would be: Where am I?
How can I discover it?
What should I do?
You see unfamiliar vegetation outside, and there is air to breathe; the
sunlight seems paler than you remember it and colder.
You turn to
look at the sky, but stop.
You are struck by a sudden feeling: if you
don’t look, you don’t have to know that you are, perhaps, too far from
earth and no return is possible: so long as you don’t know it, you are
free to believe what you wish- and you experience a foggy, pleasant,
but somehow guilty, kind of hope.
You turn on your instruments: they may be damaged, you don’t know
But you stop, struck by a sudden fear: how can you
trust these instruments?
How can you be sure they won’t mislead
How can you know whether they will work on a different world?
You turn away from the instruments.
Now you begin to wonder why you have no desire to do anything.
seems so much safer just to wait fro something to turn up somehow;
it is better, you tell yourself, not to rock the spaceship.
Far in the
distance, you see some sort of living creatures approaching; you
don’t know whether they are human, but they walk on two feet.
you decide, will tell you what to do.
You are never heard from again.
This is fantasy, you say?
You would not act like that and no astronaut
But this is the way most men live their
lives, here, on earth.
Most men spend their days struggling to evade three questions, the
answers to which underlie man’s every thought, feeling and action,
whether he is consciously aware of it or not: Where am I?
How do I
What should I do?