The rectangle said: September 2.

“It was a calendar the mayor of New York had erected last year on the top of a building, so that citizens might tell the day of the month as they told the hours of the day, by glancing up at a public tower. A white rectangle hung over the city, imparting the date to the men in the streets below. In the rusty light of this evening’s sunset, the rectangle said: September 2.”

On this day, the greatest story of the century begin with the question, “Who is John Galt?” First published in 1957, the story- and the philosophy it defined- has never been more poignant than it is today.

Originally titled “The Strike”, sales of the book in the first half of 2009 have increased by 250 percent; sales in 2008 established the all time record of annual sales. 2007, the 50th anniversary of the publication, set the previous record. This trend has continued for a decade. 850 major book retailers placed floor standing displays of the title in July of this year. Total sales since publication approach 7 million.

In a recent survey of the Library of Congress/National Book Club, American readers ranked it second only to the Bible in its influence in their lives. Every book published by the author is still in print (in excess of 20 million books sold); the US Postal Service created a stamp in the author’s honor in 1999. Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, Julia Roberts and Anne Hathaway are all rumored to be candidates for the leading role in the long-awaited movie.

I read it at least annually. At around 1200 pages, it is a long book, but the story is captivating, intellectually stimulating, and presents a philosophy defining the existence of man as an individual and an end unto himself.

I can best explain the continued and growing popularity of the novel through my wife’s comments of a year ago. While listening to an audio version as we traveled, she asked me when the book was written. Her response to my answer was, “It’s like reading today’s newspaper.” The events of today- even the President’s comments regarding health care reform, bailouts, and government stimulus seem to be taken directly from the writing.

The published title is a metaphor. At one point in the novel, one character who is on strike, asks a champion of industry, “If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still tying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater the effort, the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders- what would you tell him to do?”

The industrialist responded, “I…don’t know. What… could he do? What would you tell him?”

The answer: “To shrug.”

Think about that statement… the producers in America today carry the nation, even the world upon their shoulders. In North Carolina- effective September 1, our government has imposed another temporary tax (this is in addition to the temporary tax that begin in 2001). The federal government continues to consider national health insurance and an additional stimulus- all of which will be additional weight that must be shouldered by the producers of the nation. The question to consider this September 2 is when will the burden be too great to bear? When will you shrug?

Today, the Ayn Rand Institute offers scholarships to students through essay contests, as well as significant resources on the study of Ayn Rand and her philosophy, Objectivism; and has distributed over 1 million copies of her works to classrooms since 2002. Teachers who request books, will receive books, lesson guides and information regarding essay contests- along with email and telephone support. The BB&T Charitable Foundation and former CEO John Allison have given millions of dollars to more than 25 universities for the study of Rand and the moral foundation of Capitalism. One of the best examples of this work is at Clemson University.

September 2 is the date that Rand begin work on the novel; and the date the novel begins. It is the date in the book that Dagny and Hank begin their vacation together, the date James marries Cheryl, and the date Chile nationalizes d’Anconia Copper.

September 2 would be a good date for concerned Americans to begin reading a book that will give words and definition to what we feel today; a good date to begin something life-changing. I keep several copies in my office to loan- stop by and ask for one, or at least take a look at or Clemson’s Moral Foundations of Capitalism.

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One Response to “The rectangle said: September 2.”

  1. Stephen Savage says:

    Thank you for taking the time to share. Will read her book!

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