Thursday, March 09, 2006

Ayn Rand Institute at the Johns Hopkins University

Since I am now unemployed with plenty of time on my hands and a decent amount of money saved up, I'm going to make this weekend roadtrip to Baltimore, Maryland to attend the debate session organized by the Objectivist club of Johns Hopkins University. ARI will be sending the really cool Dr. Yaron Brook (whose debate I attended at the University of Chicago, and was fully impressed by him) and Dr. Onkar Ghate. The event is on Monday, 13th of March at 7pm. It's part of ARI's new and really important Free Speech Campaign, which will seek to aggresively disseminate the Mohammed cartoons in a defiant expression of free speech - even if it is offensive speech (which is the very purpose of protecting speech as such!) So, that's where I will be. The way I see it, I have nothing to lose and so much to gain by pursuing this value - something I will be fully deprived of when I go to India.

5 Comments:

Blogger JohnJEnright said...

Ergo, have a great time going to this, but, listen, I am just sick that you have to go, and at what you say you are going to. I suspect that when you get back to India, you will find you have changed in ways you did not realize, and that your parents will have less influence on you than you now expect. I highly recommend that you preserve your mental independence, and make plans to return here. As for letting your mom marry you off, I fear that would just be a real crucifixion for you, a martyrdom you should avoid. I know it's depressing right now, but time may bring new hope for you. Hang in there and keep on pushing.

3/09/2006 06:36:00 PM  
Blogger Ergo Sum said...

Thanks John. India is probably a very different place now than what it was when I left it - about 7 years ago. India must have changed, and I certainly have changed. I came out as a devout Christian (a catholic, no less) and now I'll be returning home an atheist - an Objectivist, no less! ha!

I can only hope India will be tolerable to me atleast till the time I can figure out how to get out again. I think of how the masses of India live each day so nonchalantly, and I wonder if I could ever become so numb and apathetic to the pervasive evilness in the country, its people, its corrupt collectivist culture and government.

It's why We The Living left such an indelible mark on my mind. I knew what Kira and Leo were going through, and I could identify with them, though I don't believe it will be as bad for me in India today. However, the essence is the same.

3/10/2006 01:08:00 AM  
Blogger PhoenixAtlantis said...

I am originally from Sri Lanka, and I often visit the country. Everytime I go back, I marvel at how rapidly it is improving. Sure, it is still nowhere near Australia and the US in terms of living standards, but the rate of improvement is amazing. I suspect you will find something similar with India, and you will be pleasantly surprised. Also, from what I hear, India does have quite a few Objectivists...

3/11/2006 01:25:00 AM  
Blogger Ergo Sum said...

Phoenix,
I agree that India might be a much tolerable place today. However, I dread things like the utter lack of civility among Indians - something as simple as waiting in line to get on a bus without pushing, shoving, and jostling is utterly foreign to many Indians. There's absolutely no concept of personal space (given that it's a collectivist culture of a BILLION people, no less!).
There's no concept of honesty... many Indians are constantly trying to pull a fast one on someone else... that dishonesty is pervasive in the government, the culture, the police (even the traffic cops), the neighborhoods!
My folks still live in a "co-operative housing society" -- basically, it's a very communist setup.

And really, despite all these and other 'macro' factors of life in India, what I dread MOST really is my personal life living with my uber-catholic, mystic, conservative, societal-minded family. I don't even have any special affinity with most of them! Ugh.

Anyway, I'm gonna stop complaining cuz I'm tired of it, and I bet you all are too. Actually, I hope the purpose of my explaining these things out in detail will help to show people exactly what values America and free societies like it have to offer, and hear from my first-hand experience what it means to live in a society that violates the individual.

I'm not concerned with the standard of living as such - I have no problem living poor or with meager means. I am worried about my loss of individualistic identity - that I'm an atheist, Objectivist, gay, independent, opinionated, etc. I'll have to seriously curtail or subdue these identities to some significant extents, and I will be deprived of the values that I could be pursuing that would be consistent with my self-identity.

3/11/2006 03:28:00 AM  
Blogger PhoenixAtlantis said...

Yes, I know what you mean. Places like India and Sri Lanka are improving as markets free up and foreign trade pours in... but things like that can happen almost overnight. For a shift in mindset amongst the general population to take place however, it may take generations.

Tell me - once you go back to India, do you HAVE to associate with those family members whom you do not share many values with?

And yes, like the others have said - hang in there. Don't give up hope. Try your best to go back to the USA, talk to the Australian embassy and watch the Shawshank Redemption every day if you have to!

And I don't think you're complaining. To me, you sound like a person who has discovered how wonderful a country can be, and is justifiably sad at having to say goodbye to it.

3/11/2006 03:52:00 AM  

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