The Tao of Roark

by Peter Saint-Andre

Chapter 33: A Higher Step

Previous: Chapter 32: The Sovereign Individual

Supreme independence makes me free. But free for what? Is it enough merely to be free, to be without ties to the world, to govern myself in solitude and inactivity?

Roark's way of life says no.

Independence is but a precondition, which frees me to create great value, to make something that is an improvement upon nature instead of a degradation, to produce a higher step that would be impossible without human action in the world. It is this fundamental creativity that Roark possesses but that Toohey lacks.

A higher step is respectful of nature, just as Roark's structures respect the sites upon which they are built. It knows that nature has its own beauty, and it strives to add further beauty that even nature could not provide.

The principle of the higher step is a difficult taskmaster. It is much easier to blast away the granite of a mountain than to work with that granite to build a Heller House or a Monadnock Valley. It is also much easier to blast away the foundations of my personality and remake it in the image of Rand's philosophy than to engage in the more delicate task of self-improvement.

Is my work a higher step above what I have inherited from nature and tradition? Are my relationships higher steps above what my family and earlier generations have bequeathed to me? Is my soul a higher step above what nature and nurture have provided to me?

Independence frees me to create great value. It is up to me whether I make that potential real.

Next: Chapter 34: The Great Task

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