The Fundamental Choice

By Bradley Harrington

“No one could doubt that we had seen an achievement of man in his capacity as a rational being – an achievement of reason, of logic, of mathematics, of total dedication to the absolutism of reality.” – Ayn Rand, “Apollo 11,” 1969 –

On Monday, July 20, we celebrated the 46th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, where astronaut Neil Armstrong uttered these immortal words: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

But tragically enough, also on that date two amazing friends of mine were senselessly murdered:

“Two people were shot and killed during an armed robbery Monday morning… Cheyenne residents Dwight Brockman, 67, and George Manley, 76, were killed inside The Coin Shop at 510 W. Lincolnway.” (“Two killed in The Coin Shop robbery in Cheyenne,” WTE, July 21.)

To those of us – not many – who understand the role of the mind in man’s existence, the connection between these two events is obvious. To those who don’t, or who actively disparage the power of ideas, it is my sole mission today to educate you as to their importance.

I first met Dwight, The Coin Shop owner, back in 2002 when I began buying silver. I no longer trusted the long-term value of phony Federal Reserve notes backed by nothing but a lick and a promise.

This was a belief Dwight understood, and I’ll never forget what he told me, with a wink and a smile, as he took my money: “Well, right now, they’re still worth something, which is good, as I need to spend a few of them.”

Dwight, more than just about anybody I know, had a tremendous respect for the functioning of the human mind. He knew from whence our achievements came, and – while still being a very friendly guy – he had little patience for fools who thought they could sidestep reality and get away with it.

And although we never discussed it, I know that he would have appreciated what it took to send Misters Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins to the Moon: The culmination of over 300 years of physics, math and scientific experimentation, from Galileo through Newton on up to the Wright Brothers, Goddard and von Braun.

Dwight understood the power of ideas. “Wishes don’t mean squat,” he told me one day. “Quit thinking, and see how far it gets you.”

Philosophically, however, that’s exactly what we’ve done.

The intellectual mindset that carried us to the Moon can be directly traced to Aristotle’s principles of logic, immutable and unchanging for 2,500 years. By the mid-1700’s, however, philosophy became paralyzed by the clash between “empiricists” (David Hume, etc.) who saw human knowledge as based in “experience” only – and “rationalists” (Rene Descartes, etc.) who were convinced it lay only in “innate ideas.”

Translation: The “empiricists” believed knowledge lay in experience without thought, and the “rationalists” believed it consisted of thought without experience.

Thus, it was only a matter of time until Immanuel Kant came along to slam in the final wedge between man’s mind and the world around him, which he did with “The Critique of Pure Reason” in 1781.

Mr. Kant, in essence, completed the separation of the two by declaring they could never meet. And no one rose up to demonstrate that knowledge is the integration of both experience AND thought.

Thus, all modern philosophical systems – and, of course, all education as well – proceed from the same bogus Kantian base, and the wreckage of that original ideological destruction now clutters the cultural landscape all around us.

And that’s a surprise? For how long did you “pragmatists” think you could teach that the mind is impotent, before that idea atomized our brains? Have you looked at the kinds of things that have been happening in the news lately?

For how long did you think you could preach that reason is flawed and that force is good, before you’d be confronted with mindless thugs bent on acquiring what they want at the point of a gun?

And, now, when one of your Kantian goons walks into a downtown business and blows away two people in cold blood – because he valued money more than human life – you can’t figure out what made him do it?

Yes, it’s the goon himself who’s responsible for his actions. But, who turned the goons loose in the world? Every single one of you who has ever disparaged the power of ideas.

The mind and force, Dear Reader, are opposites. It’s one or the other, and our fundamental choice is:

The magnificent spirit of thought, freedom and accomplishment that led to Apollo 11 – or the putrid slime-bucket world-view of entitlement, hate and brutality that snuffed out two men’s lives at 510 W. Lincolnway.

Which do you prefer?

Bradley Harrington is a computer technician and a writer who lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming; he can be reached at brad@bradandbarbie.com.

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