The Tao of Roark

by Peter Saint-Andre

Chapter 34: The Great Task

Previous: Chapter 33: A Higher Step

Why create value? Does the world deserve that effort from me? Doesn't creating great value place me at the mercy of the world? Wouldn't it be easier to seek power over the world so that it cannot harm me?

Here again, Roark's way of life says no.

In his job interview with Henry Cameron, Roark says that he doesn't like the shape of things and that he wants to change that shape through his own efforts, through the application of his own creative power — not through power over others. This purpose, expressed in architecture, is the great task of his life. It is just such a great task of value-creation that Roark possesses but that Wynand lacks.

Is it realistic for me to have the goal of reshaping the world in the image of my values? Not directly. But then all Roark did was design some buildings — it's not as if he reshaped the entire world. Instead, he made his values real in the world through the limited yet still significant scope of what was possible to him.

The ethical issue here is not the relative extent of what I can achieve in life compared to famous inventors, scientists, or artists, but the absolute extent of what I can achieve based on my interests, my talents, and the energy I can realistically expend on my most important projects and relationships during the brief span of my life on this earth. At that level, I too am capable of great things.

Next: Chapter 35: The Noble Soul

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