Having Integrity Is Hard

“Integrity is the recognition of the fact that you cannot fake your consciousness, just as honesty is the recognition of the fact that you cannot fake existence—that man is an indivisible entity, an integrated unit of two attributes: of matter and consciousness, and that he may permit no breach between body and mind, between action and thought, between his life and his convictions—that, like a judge impervious to public opinion, he may not sacrifice his convictions to the wishes of others, be it the whole of mankind shouting pleas or threats against him—that courage and confidence are practical necessities, that courage is the practical form of being true to existence, of being true to truth, and confidence is the practical form of being true to one’s own consciousness.”

Rand has always said rationality is the greatest virtue but I think in this day and age, integrity is so much rarer to find than rationality.

Peter Keating is often used as an example for not having integrity, but he realised it too late and was unable to save himself. On the other hand, Henry “Hank” Rearden also lacked in integrity to a certain extent, but unlike Keating, he was able to find integrity again.

Hank was the male hero in Atlas Shrugged, he invented the Rearden metal to revolutionize the steel industry. Despite his success, he was unable to shake off the burden of supporting his family members who despise him for being successful:

  • Philip Rearden: He who does not think. Philip did not have a purpose in life, he was completely dependent on Hank. He was a stark contrast of Hank by being everything he was not. Hank supported him even though Philip did everything to try to destroy Hank, yet Philip was ashamed of being known to be dependent on Hank. Philip represented the opposite of charity- Greed.
  • Mrs Rearden: She who does not understand charity. Like Philip, Mrs Rearden leeched off Hank yet was completely ungrateful. She could not understand why Hank was successful and Philip wasn’t; she thought Hank was selfish but she could not realise Philip was in fact the selfish one. Mrs. Rearden represented the entitlement of the self-proclaimed do-gooders.
  • Lilian Rearden: The moocher. Worst of them all, she actively tried to undermine Hank at every cost to prove her self worth, eventually she could not hide her true intention any more and revealed her plan to Hank.

All 3 of them had constant battles with Hank. Philip wanted to look good to his fellow “comrades” using Hank’s money and even had the audacity to tell him to not use Hank’s name for the cheque. Mrs Rearden wanted Hank to give Philip a high end job despite Philip being completely useless at anything. Lilian blackmailed Hank so that Hank would give up the secret krabby patty  formula of the Rearden metal.

Hank pleased them through out the first and second part of the book until he finally realised all his effort to support his family only fuelled their abuse to him in the last part of the book, so he walked out and he felt free.

What we can get out of the story is that pleasing other people is tiring, you may initially feel more accepted but ultimately you are lying to yourself by faking reality. Let yourself be happy, just because everyone listens to Taylor Swift doesn’t mean you have to, just because everyone eats halal doesn’t mean you should too. You are free to follow your values, don’t let other people’s whims halt you.


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