There is a general trend in the world today where people are more concerned about the feelings of other people rather than their own feelings. The novel, ‘anthem’ takes us through the life of a character, Equality who realised his weakness in trying to please everyone else instead of being the person he was meant to be. His name is a symbol that reflects the need for equality in the world today. Everybody is trying to be like the other person, not realising the uniqueness in their assignments that requires them to behave differently. The obsession of being equal has led to the suppression of many talents and denied many the opportunity to be innovative due to fear “Many men in the Homes of the Scholars have had strange new ideas in the past . . . but when the majority of their brother Scholars voted against them, they abandoned their ideas, as all men must.” It takes quite some time and effort before individual efforts are recognized. There is a general expectation of what a person should do that when one comes up with a unique idea, it is rejected and even followed by numerous threats.
The best moment of Equality’s life was when he realised that there was nothing wrong with him being unique “[I]f this should lighten the toil of men . . . then it is a great evil, for men have no cause to exist save in toiling for other men.” The moment he realised that being unique was a blessing rather than a curse, he found peace and fulfilment. Currently, there is a wave of technological development, where everyone feels the need to indulge and associate with technological development. Just as Equality was expected to behave like anyone else, the current world expects every individual to have and use a technological device. This is so, despite the negatives that have been associated with technology. A person who may decide not to indulge in technology, just to minimize on the risks associated with it will be sneered at and considered outdated (Rand 98). However, from the lessons learned from the novel, we realise that exhibiting such behaviour is not a curse as many might look at it but rather a blessing. The story speaks of the benefit that a person could get, when they remain focused and focused about what they do.
The second world order that the multitudes seem to be obsessed with is the ‘middle class’ syndrome. The middle class is p lace where majority of people feel comfortable. The position gives them certain form of identity, as they are able to comfortably meet their needs and relate with the kind of people they want. People who strive to be among such class, just like the society in which Equality lived, fail to realise the efforts needed just to maintain the group. The pressure that comes with the need of observing and maintaining a certain kind of lifestyle, just for other people can be too much. It will require a great deal of sacrifice and courage for a person to break from the norm and choose a different direction. Such a decision implies loosing friends and facing all manner of ridicule. However, once a person has made the decision to break from the normal, they realise the happiness and peace that comes with it.
The third and most probably hurting world order is the system of education. The society offers a specific system of education to all children, which is considered to offer a holistic form of development. The system has become common where a child is exposed to it at the age of three years. Children are expected to be at a certain level of education at a particular age, once that does not happen; they are considered abnormal. The same is also expected on their performance, where intelligence quotient is measured by the marls one scores in specific subjects, ignoring other interests and talents (Rand 56). Equality faced a lot of persecution in society simply because he could not live up to the standards that were required. He even tried his best just to be as the society wanted him to be but failed. True freedom for such individuals comes when they realise and recognize that they were created for a different assignment. General expectations and standards have lead to a waste of resources among children and even parents. Children grow into hopelessness knowing they cannot amount to nothing, due to the standards that were used to grade them.
The few people who have realised that trading one’s happiness for the happiness of the society frustrates, have dared to live different and unique lives. It is important to realise that finding true happiness and fulfilment comes from knowing one’s assignment. Finding fulfilment in ones individual life gives them the courage and passion to live on. Such confidence will be illuminated through them and influence other people who will also want to pursue their dreams (Mayhew 73). One Equality found his own path, everything aligned to itself. He might have lost many associates who did not support his decisions, yet he also realised the people that loved and appreciated him for whom he was. He remained with his loyal friend the golden one, who pursued him even after he left for a solitude life. The union is a symbol of the right people aligning to one, even after aligning to a different lifestyle. Being his best friend revealed to him that expressing one’s unique abilities keeps only the important and loyal people close. “But I still wonder how it was possible, in those graceless years of transition, long ago, that men did not see whether they were going, and went on, in blindness and cowardice, to their fate.”
Mayhew, Robert, ed. Essays on Ayn Rand's Anthem. Lexington Books, 2005.
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Rand, Ayn. Anthem. Starbooks Classics, 2012.