As is my custom, I celebrate the birthday of Ayn Rand by opening one of her novels to a random page and reading. Here is something I read today, from The Fountainhead, Part Two, Chapter 5:
His great voice was soft and persuasive. It filled the room, but it made his listeners realize that it could have filled a Roman amphitheater; there was something subtly flattering in this realization, in the sound of the powerful voice being held in check for their benefit.
“ … and thus, my friends, what the architectural profession lacks is an understanding of its own social importance. This lack is due to a double cause: to the anti-social nature of our entire society and to your own inherent modesty. You have been conditioned to think of yourselves merely as breadwinners with no higher purpose than to earn your fees and the means of your own existence. Isn’t it time, my friends, to pause and to redefine your position in society? Of all the crafts, yours is the most important. Important, not in the amount of money you might make, not in the degree of artistic skill you might exhibit, but in the service you render to your fellow men. You are those who provide mankind’s shelter. Remember this and then look at our cities, at our slums, to realize the gigantic task awaiting you. But to meet this challenge you must be armed with a broader vision of yourselves and of your work. You are not hired lackeys of the rich. You are crusaders in the cause of the underprivileged and the unsheltered. Not by what we are shall we be judged, but by those we serve. Let us stand united in this spirit. Let us—in all matters—be faithful to this new, broader, higher perspective. Let us organize—well, my friends, shall I say—a nobler dream?”
Keating listened avidly. He had always thought of himself as a breadwinner bent upon earning his fees, in a profession he had chosen because his mother had wanted him to choose it. It was gratifying to discover that he was much more than this; that his daily activity carried a nobler significance. It was pleasant and it was drugging.