No, I am not talking about the United States National Anthem. I am talking about the book Anthem by Ayn Rand.
Ayn Rand is better known for her works The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. She was well-known for promoting the Objectivist Movement, and her works received mixed reviews by literary critics. However, she has a legacy for her works and for Anthem, which was first published in 1938.
The book’s setting is that of a futuristic Utopian dark age, where new technology and individualism are rejected by a World Council that determines the Earth’s affairs. In this Utopian society everyone works “for the Greater Good”, and are forced to use the word “we” to describe themselves. The protagonist of the book is a young man named Equality 7-2521, who yearns to learn more about the Earth’s mysteries, and believes that the World Council has led the Human Race astray from the truth. He re-discovers electricity, but the Council rejects it and attempts to arrest him. Equality flees to a forest nearby, and is followed by a friend, whom he simply calls “The Golden One”. Equality and The Golden One discover what it is like to say the word “I” and be individuals, not slaves to a Utopian society, and Equality plans to return and bring his fellow friends with him to the forest to start a new civilization that is free from Utopia.
Rand emphasized several themes in her book Anthem, the main one being individualism over society. Rand believed that people should be individuals instead of one society, and Anthem is a prominent example of Dystopia, or Anti-Utopia. However, Rand also believed that man is not supposed to live for others, but only for oneself. She did not believe in being any brother’s keeper. I believe that, as a Christian, I am supposed to love my neighbor like myself, and I am my brother’s keeper. Rand also believed that one must be selfish to have love, but she did not realize that unconditional love is unselfish, and that God has an unconditional love for us.
While Anthem may not be the most thought-provoking book ever made, it does have one important point I can agree with: Don’t try to be like everybody else. You are special, and you are an individual, not part of a group that does not care about you. God cares about you. Jesus died on the cross for you. If that’s not unconditional love, I don’t know what is.