We Are Fortunate: Freedom in Ayn Rand’s Anthem

Freedom to choose is what everyone desires in this world, no matter who we are, where we came from, or the color of our skin. Millions of people tried so hard to migrate to this country for that reason alone.

7 months ago

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Freedom to choose is what everyone desires in this world, no matter who we are, where we came from, or the color of our skin. Millions of people tried so hard to migrate to this country for that reason alone.  Multitudes of people sacrificed their lives to give us the freedom we now experience in this country. Freedom to do what we want and the liberty to choose who we want to be. With freedom and determination, people can accomplish so many things in life. Most people do take advantage of this free will. We are fortunate to live in a country where freedom can lead to fulfilling our dreams through hard work and determination.

The Westegg Etymology database states that, “freedom” originated from “German (literal, modern-day translation, Freiheit), but is actually closer in derivation to the German word Friede, which means ‘peace’ and is a word of pre-Christian, Germanic origin (originally “Frith”). The archaic term was used to signify the period following the termination of a blood feud between two Germanic clans when the softer, feminine qualities of the god Freda or Frita held sway” (“Freedom 2,” 2013). Freedom means power. It means the right to act, speak, or think as one wants, without hindrance or restraint (“Freedom,” 2013). Having the sovereignty to have the opportunity to fulfill our dreams in this country has always been the life that most people would like to have, including foreigners.

The freedom to choose what we do in life makes this world fascinating, unlike the main character in Ayn Rand’s (1938) novel, Anthem. This character was named Equality 7-2521. He did not have free will. He was not allowed to choose his destiny; his path in life was tailored and constructed according to the City Council. Equality 7-2521 was not allowed to speak the word “I.”  It was a sin to say “I” in his realm.  In our world, he could be almost anything he wanted to be, and produce what he wanted to create.  He could be an inventor, writer, teacher, or anything else he put his mind to. The only limits in our world would be determined by the extent of his limitation. There might be some circumstances beyond his control, but anything is possible. However, Equality 7-2521 came from a world in which everything is black and white, and sovereignty is not something he can exercise freely.

Equality 7-2521 and his friend International 4-8818 were not allowed to make their own destinies or to pave their own paths in life. Both their lives were planned, just like everyone else’s in his world. No one questioned the members of the Council for all they know, the Councils are their powerful leaders, and whatever they said is the law and must be followed. Equality 7-2521 and International 4-8818 were told when to sleep, what to eat, when to talk, what kind occupation they would have and how long they can work.  In his world, every individual can only work until they are forty years old. They are forced to retire. A person could not be an artist, even if he/she was good at it, unless the members of the World Council instructed them to be an artist.  This is not a life that everyone would like to have. Every individual should have the independence to choose his or her own path in life.

We take for granted the liberty that we are privileged to have in this country. Millions of people sacrifice their lives so we can enjoy this freedom. We lose the people that we love: moms, dads, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, and friends. These loved ones sometimes die fighting to keep this independence for all generations to come. We are fortunate to be able to have the choice of what to eat, who to hang out with, and what movies to watch. In our society, the citizens make and decide the choices or restrictions, not the government. However, in some cases we are still at the mercy of our government, or any authorities. In order to have a civilized world, we still need someone to lead us. We may not like some of the decisions that are made, but they are not like the City Council in Anthem. Having free will can help pave the road to success in life. However, just having freedom alone is sometimes not enough. We also need to have the determination to be successful.

Determination means “controlling or deciding of something’s nature or outcome… [determination] originated in late Middle English (in the sense settlement of a controversy by a judge or by reasoning and authoritative opinion): via Old French from Latin determination (n), from the verb determinare” (“Determination,” 2013).  We are in control of our own destiny. We may have to jump over a lot of hurdles in this life to get to where we want to be, but this is not a hurdle that we are limited to jump.

In Anthem, this society has shown that by having the attitude to succeed on a separate path, rather than the one Equality 7-2521 was told, does not necessarily produce a good result. Equality 7-2521 was forbidden to go beyond the line that was drawn for him to walk on. International 4-8818 encouraged Equality 7-2521 to stop going over the boundary towards his underground tunnel. The tunnel was kept as his secret spot, for fear of getting in trouble. International 4-8818 insisted and tried to persuade Equality 7-2521 from crossing that forbidden barrier but to no avail. Equality 7-2521 was so determined to continue working on his project down below earth in the underground.

However, Equality 7-2521 was not afraid to cross that line, and he kept venturing into the forbidden territory, where nobody had dared explore before. He would not let anything constrict him from walking through the red tape. Equality 7-2521 did not want to settle for what the World Council had laid out for him. He wanted to explore new things. Furthermore, because of his willpower, Equality 7-2521 was able to do something no one had done before. He kept going back to that tunnel, and continued to perfect his invention. Using his talent, intelligence, and perseverance, Equality 7-2521 tried to invent “The Sparks.” He hoped that someday the members of the council could see this invention as an improvement or progression to their world. His determination and perseverance led him to discover the next great invention of the century.

Unfortunately, once Equality 7-2521 finished perfecting his discovery, he tried to present this new technology to the Council Members; unfortunately they were not as forthcoming as he would have liked the members of the Council to be. The Council viewed this new invention of electric power not as an advancement to their way of life, but rather as betrayal and disobedience. They were so close-minded that they did not want to listen to his justification; in Anthem, all people have to agree on something for it to be put into place, and Equality 7-2521 was acting unique, and therefore was to be punished for it. Of course, the council refused to change their minds. Instead of embracing this new technology, Equality 7-2521 was sent to be incarcerated, for they considered his curiosity to be a cardinal sin. Eventually, Equality 7-2521 easily escapes, and what happens to him next is a prime example of what good can happen when someone perseveres.

In our country, we are allowed to explore and try new things; new inventions are created every day, or maybe even every hour. We are not forbidden to generate new equipment or invent new technologies if it helps our country and the economy. We are encouraged to succeed and keep building new technologies. We are stimulated to keep trying to make new inventions. Just like Collin Powell said, “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work” (in “Determination,”2013).

We are fortunate to live in this country where freedom, hard work, and determination can lead to success and fulfilling our dreams. As everyone knows, having freedom is not always the answer to being successful. Everyone is free in this country to do what they desire — just like the story of Chris Gardner in the movie called Pursuit of Happyness. Gardner served briefly in the Navy. He never had a proper education other than his high school diploma.  He was homeless and had to fight for everything to keep a roof over his and his young son’s head.  Despite all of the obstacles that he had endured, he never gave up. He was so determined to make something of himself to support his son. With this determination and hard work he became a CEO of a successful brokerage company with a net worth of $165 million. Never having a proper education did not discourage Gardner from making something of himself. He was a great example of someone who did not give up on his dream, despite the hurdles that he underwent (Fabius, 2011).

Unfortunately, having the freedom and determination to succeed has not always amounted to success. The true meaning of success is hard work and having the heart to become someone that we are proud of. Having the freedom to at least try to be successful in life is a promising tool and fulfilling our dreams is not easy. The road is not straight; there will be plenty of hurdles, and it is a matter of having and maintaining the will power to get through all of the curves. There are many challenges in life in order to get to the top of the mountain. However, once one has climbed that mountain, nothing and no one can take that accomplishment away.


References.

Determination. (2013). In Brainy Quote. Retrieve March 27, 2013, from http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/determination.html

Fabius, H. (2011). 15 quotes from Chris Gardner author of Pursuits of Happyness. BillionSuccess. Retrieve March 27, 2013, from http://billionsuccess.com /2011/10/15-quotes-from-chris-gardner-quotes/

Freedom. (2013). In Oxford Dictionary. Retrieved March 27, 2013, from http://oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/freedom?q=

Freedom 2. (2013). In Westegg. Retrieved March 27, 2013, from http://www.westegg.com/etymology/

Rand, Ayn. (1938, 1961) Anthem. New York: Signet.


Rica Arcadi originally published this essay in Palabras back in April 2013.


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Published 7 months ago

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