Ayn Rand’s central paradigm is a dichotomy between those she calls makers and takers. The makers, in her opinion, are the industrialists. And the takers are people who favor any kind of government social program or anyone who relies on such a program.
But perhaps the most accurate paradigm for the 20th and 21st centuries should be the dichotomy between creators and destroyers. And I can’t think of a better way to illustrate the dichotomy than by contrasting the Seva Foundation and it’s charitable projects to the project of the Iraq War. Both are different versions of air campaigns. One heals and the other harms. One is enlightened and the other is an expression of a kind of blindness. One quite literally bestows sight and the other relies on blinding people to the truth, because as they say, truth is the first casualty of war. Seva restores sight to the blind. It’s planes rain blessings from the sky. The Iraq War rained terror from the skies. Was it an act of terrorism? Does it really matter what we call it? It rained terror. That’s the most important fact to remember.
The Iraq War cost $3 trillion. I don’t know how much the projects of the Seva foundation have cost over the years, but they would be in the millions not the trillions, and not many millions at that. Imagine what Seva could have done with $3 trillion. And that’s the point. If you imagine it then you can see what the world needs to do to bring about world peace. If the nations of the world would start spending money that way, wars would likely become obsolete; because there would be such a feeling of fellowship between the nations of the world that people would start transcending their fears, prejudices, and hatreds. The world would start resembling a paradise, at least when it comes to good will between human beings.
The people of Seva are creators.
Seva means selfless service. Ayn Rand considered it to be the ultimate sin. Seva has reduced the cost of restoring eyesight to $50. Compare that to the cost of the same kind of medical care in the U.S. They have restored eyesight to 3 million people in places like Cambodia, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Nepal, and Tibet.
The Iraq War was the work of destroyers.
The number of Iraqis who died in violence, 2003-2011: 150,000 to 400,000. Orphans in Iraq: 4.5 million. Orphans living on the street: 600,000. Most Iraqis say that George W. Bush is far worse than Saddam Hussein. In fact because he authorized the use of torture it’s hard to see much difference between them. The main difference is that both leaders were serving different interests and had competing goals. But when it comes to the means they used to achieve those goals there was little difference between them.
Jesus said, “By their fruit you shall know them.” It’s not hard to see the difference in the kind of fruit that comes from projects like Seva compared to projects like the Iraq War. And yet human beings seem to be blind to these realities. I suppose it’s because they are usually spared the gory details of war. And because good news is seldom reported, they are spared from that reality as well.
The solution is simple: stop raining terror from the skies and start raining blessings from the skies. Then gradually the peoples of the world will start learning to get along with one another and respect one another. Instead of fear and dread and distrust they will develop trust and hope and good will.
How did the world become such a mess? It was a long process. And to untangle it requires a process in the opposite direction. It was acts of cruelty that led us down this road, and it is acts of compassion that will lead us back in the opposite direction. It’s so simple. And people of good will are showing us the way—–the people of Seva being among the best of them.
If we would only follow their example!
Why is this so hard for people to understand?