- Dad took us out for Chinese food. It was delicious.
- When we got home Dad was dancing in the kitchen. I love when that happens. Some of my best memories of home involve us blasting music and dancing.
- Tomorrow is Christmas!
Thursday, December 24, 2009
In other words, the benevolent universe premise consists of seeing the world as a place for opportunities of happiness, success, and achievement of values by default if one lives pursuing rational self-interest and does not fight reality. So how does that relate to Christmas, a holiday typically hailed as altruistic and self-sacrificial for the joy of others? Well, to quote Ayn Rand:
Although accidents and failures are possible, they are not, according to Objectivism, the essence of human life. On the contrary, the achievement of values is the norm—speaking now for the moral man, moral by the Objectivist definition. Success and happiness are the metaphysically to-be-expected. In other words, Objectivism rejects the view that human fulfillment is impossible, that man is doomed to misery, that the universe is malevolent. We advocate the “benevolent universe” premise.
The “benevolent universe” does not mean that the universe feels kindly to man or that it is out to help him achieve his goals. No, the universe is neutral; it simply is; it is indifferent to you. You must care about and adapt to it, not the other way around. But reality is “benevolent” in the sense that if you do adapt to it—i.e., if you do think, value, and act rationally, then you can (and barring accidents you will) achieve your values. You will, because those values are based on reality.
Christmas is a fantastic time because it demonstrates the benevolent universe premise all month. It's a time of goodwill towards others without contradiction of values or conflict of interests. We put up decorations and buy gifts for loved ones, not out of some duty to others, but because it brings us joy. I personally love trying to find a great gift for each family member that they will appreciate. It's not at all altruistic for me because seeing the people I love happy serves my own self-interest.
The charming aspect of Christmas is the fact that it expresses good will in a cheerful, happy, benevolent, non-sacrificial way. One says: “Merry Christmas”—not “Weep and Repent.” And the good will is expressed in a material, earthly form—by giving presents to one’s friends, or by sending them cards in token of remembrance . . . .
The best aspect of Christmas is the aspect usually decried by the mystics: the fact that Christmas has been commercialized. The gift-buying . . . stimulates an enormous outpouring of ingenuity in the creation of products devoted to a single purpose: to give men pleasure. And the street decorations put up by department stores and other institutions—the Christmas trees, the winking lights, the glittering colors—provide the city with a spectacular display, which only “commercial greed” could afford to give us. One would have to be terribly depressed to resist the wonderful gaiety of that spectacle.
So, without further ado, I give you the Objectivist Roundup for Christmas Eve!
Diana Hsieh presents Christmas Cheer posted at NoodleFood, saying, "Although I've not been feeling terribly well, I decided that I needed some Christmas cheer in the form of a tree and lights. I'm so glad I did!"
Rachel Miner presents Getting Started posted at The Playful Spirit, saying, "After so thoroughly enjoying other Objectivist parenting blogs, I've decided to jump in and try my own. I have my first post and three goals up so far (broken into sub-posts, so please look at the main blog site to understand this beginning). I know I have plenty to learn, so any thoughts and suggestions are welcome."
Rachel Miner presents My Top Three Parenting Books posted at The Playful Spirit, saying, "Having added links, pictures, and strike outs to my blog tool box, this is my first content-based post."
Paul Hsieh presents The Known Universe posted at GeekPress, saying, "This video takes you through a tour of the known universe. It's like the classic "Powers of Ten" video but astronomically accurate."
Greg Perkins presents An Objectivist Recants on IP?? posted at NoodleFood, saying, "The anarchist-libertarian mises.org has a posting featuring one of their regulars, holding himself out as an Objectivist who has seen the light: That intellectual property is transparently wrongheaded, and that Rand was simply confused about the application of the fundamentals of her philosophy when she wrote that IP is at the base of *all* property rights. But in fact, this fellow simply seems confused about the fundamentals of Objectivism, and therefore of their application to things like the legitimacy of IP."
Trey Givens presents How I Ruined Christmas posted at Trey Givens, saying, "I was going to submit my post about how people should not be upset when someone wishes them a happy [insert some holiday you don't actually celebrate here] but since it's kind of crotchety and not very in the spirit of Christmas, I think this post is better. This is the post in which I explain how I ruined Christmas. If Santa doesn't show up at your house, now you know who to blame. Sorry!"
Ari Armstrong presents Ralph Carr Shows Politicians Can Stand for Liberty posted at FreeColorado.com, saying, "Ralph Carr, governor of Colorado from 1939 to 1943, advocated economic liberty and civil rights for Japanese Americans."
Rational Jenn presents A Day in the Life posted at Rational Jenn, saying, "We are all really enjoying the homeschool experience lately!"
C.W. presents Green Jobs; Obama’s Jobs Program and Inflation posted at Krazy Economy, saying, "People have talked about what Obama's Jobs Program will not do (create jobs or stimulate the economy. This talks about this government spending and inflation."
Kelly Elmore presents My Life Long Love Affair with Jane Austen posted at Reepicheep's Coracle, saying, "This post explains my changing love for Jane Austen's novels as I have gotten older and wiser. There are some spoilers, but not too many."
Ottens presents The Polluted Health Care Debate posted at Atlantic Sentinel, saying, "Rather than denouncing "socialized medicine" as being impractical, Republicans should point out that it is immoral. People do not have a "right" to health care any more than they have a "right" to food or shelter."
[Note: While the author of this post is an Objectivist, most of the other authors on this group blog are not Objectivists.]
Rituparna Basu presents Obama?s Cynical View of Human Nature posted at The Undercurrent, saying, "***NOTE PLEASE USE Ryan DeGoyler AS THE AUTHOR*** Does Obama's Nobel Prize acceptance speech prove his view of human nature is cynical?"
Amy Mossoff presents Adam Sandler posted at The Little Things, saying, "Something about Adam Sandler's goofy grin and silly laugh gives me a sense of the Benevolent Universe Premise. If you haven't heard his Chanukah Song, now is your chance."
Amy Mossoff presents Jewish Christmas Dinner posted at The Little Things, saying, "Christmas is my favorite holiday, and food is a big part of it. Find out why I decided to make Jewish Christmas Dinner a tradition in our family. Merry Christmas, everyone!"
Miranda Barzey presents A Very Mischievous Christmas posted at Ramen & Rand, saying, "Christmas at my house has become an all out game of sneakiness and misdirection...all in good fun, of course."
And may I also recommend another article:
- Leonard Peikoff's "Christmas Should be More Commercial"
With that, may you all have a lovely Christmas Eve and a Merry Christmas tomorrow!
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Then Mom and Dad really started pulling out the stops. Shaking presents wasn't effective anymore because Dad used crazy shaped boxes that were far too big for the actual present (think a TV box for a DVD). On top of that he stuffed the boxes with beans, shopping bags, and books to throw us off. Presents no longer had names on them, just 3 different wrapping papers, one for each kid, though we had no idea which paper was for whom. And Dad being the scheming type would give us false clues. One year he told me all my boxes, which were heavy, were full of books. I didn't believe him, but it did cause some nervous gift shaking late at night and joy on Christmas morning when I found out they all contained camera equipment.
As for this Christmas, I don't know what's in the boxes under the tree. (Well, I do know one. A coat. But only because Mom asked me what color I wanted it in, not by any snooping of my own.) And I haven't shaken any presents. In effect I have been beaten by my parents at the Christmas game. I have thrown in the towel. But on Christmas morning I will be surprised at whatever I get. And in that respect I win.
I'll let you know the results after Christmas.