Over the past year and a half, the question that has arisen most in my mind was, ‘What makes a person great?’ Several times I had thought I had a comprehensive answer, but further contemplation has elicited more thoughts on this subject. While I will not quantify this subject into a sentence, I will explain what intense thought has reveled. Suffice to say, I know now at least some of the steps, and all those who read this will see the first one: I am a great man.

Egotism is reviled as a cheap and secondhand belief, one rooted in a false mind that believes themselves greater than they truly are. The question remains, however, of what a person should be and whether said person has accomplished this. The only way to put this into a logical way is to state quite honestly that a great man cannot reach an ultimate goal because that goal is in perpetual flux. A great man is one who does not stagnate. Greatness is not an end of itself; it is an acceptance of a future that can be made, not ridden. It is looking to the horizon and seeing possibility and having faith enough to make that possibility truth.

This in and of itself raises once again several questions of faith. How can one have faith in themselves if they are fallible and are destined to make mistakes? What gives someone the right to say that they will not break their word when there are so many opportunities? Who the hell are you to decide this?

All of these questions are valid, but based on the simple assumption that we are fallible creatures. This runs on the premise that temptation is unavoidable and that we must give in. Those which would ask these questions are people of little faith, people who are so afraid of missing out on some form of instant gratification that they have built in their minds to be the end all and be all of existence. They are people who believe so little of themselves that they cannot conceive of a person who would willing turn down what they long for, waiting for the next orgasm or the next party of the next time they get high. Their faith is so weak that they cannot believe that delayed gratification is possible because there is nothing to look out for them. Yet they may still claim to believe in God or in themselves. I can state quite plainly that any person who would willingly push to the side that which they claim to stand on believes in nothing at all.

One of the most common questions that my friends and I receive is how we can dare to claim that we hold honor above all else. This question, regardless of the source, comes from a person who would in an instant ignore that which they claim to hold dear for that one shot at some tactile pleasure. Honor is not a day to day choice, it is a lifestyle, built on principle, and principles only count when they are not violated under any circumstances, no matter what the loss. If one cannot hold to what they believe 100% of the time, they cannot claim to believe in it. Most people are too frightened by the possibility of loss to bother when the timing doesn’t suit their tastes. More importantly, they cower from those who can accomplish that which they cannot: standing by their statements and the perception of them.

Thus enters the Egoist, the person who is exactly what they appear to be. They are arrogant, they are cocky, but they will not quail when it comes time to hold their heads up. They will not compromise on any issue that they stand for because that devalues not only those principles, but them. The Egoist is the person who chooses a spot and stands there despite the rocks that may be thrown at them. Hamlet once asked, ‘Whether tis nobler in the minds to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing, end them?’ I am here to tell you that they are one and the same. There is no opposition without the slings and arrows. It is impossible to stand against a sea of troubles without taking arms against it, and that is the action of a great man.

What is faith? One may ask what relevance this plays in the actions that denote greatness. Faith is an unshaking belief, one that cannot be broken by anything less than the breaking of a man. Often this is misperceived as belief without proof, when faith is truly trust without reservation. In order to accomplish, one must have faith in their own ability to shape the future. The Egoist sees no end and refuses to stop, refuses to reach a point of comfort. Goethe wrote in Faust that this is what at once condemns a man, and that God’s greatest gift to mankind is his restlessness. It is this drive manifest that demonstrates a man’s greatness.

Many would choose faith in God, yet at the same time bemoan their lives such that it has not turned out as they would prefer. I ask then, what kind of faith is that? How can one claim to believe in a being that loves them and wants the best for them without believing that this being would protect them? If they are unable to accomplish without God, how can they dare to complain and cry for a similar future without first thinking that their God would do them well as promised? These people are purely and without reservation hypocrites and their actions demonstrate this beyond a shadow of a doubt. Then they see the man who stands with his head held high and wonder what arrogance allows him the privilege of such an action, and instead of raising their own heads they ask the great men to lower their eyes because the burden of principle is too heavy to bear without the strength of one’s shoulders. To look into the intensity that such a man would break all of the looters and moochers and pleasure seeker who observe this person far above their own capacities.

The looters who pervade this world see the horizon and fear for what lay ahead, the great man knows that what lies ahead is that which they would make. Great people are creators and builders. The greatest people in history were those who recognized their own talent. Frank Lloyd Wright stated on numerous occasions that he was the greatest architect ever to live, and he most certainly was. Philosophers like Rousseau and Voltaire would suffer anything in order to bring across their ideas because they were egotistical enough to believe them right. Even Jesus Christ, for those who bring him up as a great man (and he was, but not for any religious reasons), was an egoist. He was a man who was so firm on his beliefs that he lent credence to them by sacrificing himself. It is commonly said that Jesus died for the world’s sins, but the misconception is that he was suffering for others. This causes so many people to expect that others will crucify themselves for their own sake. A great man refuses to take the blame for others’ sins, and the greatest lesson one can learn from a man like Jesus is that the worst sin is to falter when it comes time to stand by what you claim. He taught us how not to sin by showing us what it means to be great, not running when the time came, and suffering temporary loss for delayed gratification.

Most people cannot accept that, and would rather demote great people to the lowest common denominator. They would bring someone down because it is too hard to raise oneself up. They spout that they are nothing without God because they refuse to make the effort of standing on their own two feet and ignore the accomplishment of human beings. What infallible, omnipotent being would create something less than it could?

One of my favorite books is Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. One of the characters, Gail Wynard perfectly expressed the views of such people when he said, ‘Look, he seems to say, I’m so glad to be a pygmy, what’s how virtuous I am. Have you heard with what delight people quote some great celebrity who’s proclaimed that he’s not so great when he looks at Niagara Falls? It’s as if they were smacking their lips in sheer glee that their best is dust before the brute force of an earthquake. As if they were sprawling on all fours, rubbing their foreheads in the mud to the majesty of a hurricane. But that’s not the spirit that leashed fire, steam, electricity, that crossed oceans in sailing sloops, that built airplanes and dams…and skyscrapers. What is it they fear? What do they hate so much, those who love to crawl? And why?’

The answer to what they fear is quite simple: they fear the inability to recreate such a thing. They hate those who can and vomit ridiculous statements about how virtue is humility and denial and abandon their right to create something because they fear that they will fail. Why? They don’t want to make the effort, they don’t want to lose out, and they can see no virtue in a project that may take a lifetime to accomplish, because it doesn’t take away the misery that they feel right now. That misery is nothing but the realization that they will never be able to match those who have done this, because they will not admit their own ability to. They look at skyscrapers and give their false reverence, false not because they don’t believe it, but false because they see the skyscraper as a greater being than them, all the while forgetting that it was Men who built it. Great men and women who refused to stop reaching towards the Heavens and began to build their way there. They crawl on the ground because it is easier, because they don’t wish to make the effort to make a shelter for themselves and would rather worship the hurricane, hoping to avoid its wrath through platitudes.

Some would call the Egoist a person who lacks emotion. That person’s unfailing logic and strength of character could not be possessed by an emotional creature, since they so often give into their fleeting impulses and call it emotion. That does a disservice to both men and emotions. I claim that these are people who feel nothing at all, and look for it in others. The crutch they seek is one of feeling, someone who can tell them what to feel and when. Great men are driven by a passion unknown to most people, and they call this arrogance for the inability to replicate it. They claim that great men have no love, while they devalue that word and do it an injustice by claiming to love all things equally. To love the sculptor as much as the guy who makes balloon animals, to love the idiot as much as the genius, and to claim these are equal. They would love sacrilege as much as God, but how can they when they don’t know they’ve committed a sacrilege and therefore cannot know God? To hold these diametric opposites at even level is to debase and pummel all that the sculptor and the genius have done. They do this, because they hope that others will do them the same “courtesy” when referring to their own mediocrity. Passion, like any flame, can be burned out if not rekindled constantly. Instead of using this flame to light their way or give them warmth, they use it as a beacon for others with flames, hoping that they can use the fire of someone else. You cannot borrow the passion of another, especially not by saying that their flame is just as empty as yours, and all you will bring to yourself are others with lightless, heatless fire.

Make no mistake, the great man feels more deeply than any of the looters of this world could dream, and no amount of argument to the contrary can change that, not without proof. It is a simple thing for anyone to crawl through life, eyes on the ground to avoid the potholes and rocks, and claim that those who walk ‘think too much’ and should ‘just feel more.’ While the person who walks with his head held high will trip at times and encounter problems that those crawling could not handle, they will proceed further.

I am a great man. Our friend Ben Rosenblum is a great man because when he decides that his life will go a certain way, he makes it happen. Paul Oppold is a great man because he couldn’t look at himself and say that he gave his work 100% until he removed the distractions from it, and did. Elric and Ramirez are great men because when they make a statement I can guarantee that they will not go back on it. There are many others. Greatness is a defining trait, one that cannot be possessed over night or exemplified for a day and cannot be proven until there are no longer any opportunities to test it. However, the first step toward greatness is to admit it, then act accordingly without question or reserve. The ability to do this makes a person great, and all others are welcome to test it because it will not be broken. All those who claim to be unworthy are by virtue of stating it. That is what an Egoist is, and it is the egoists who will change the world, surviving all obstacles because in the end, they know they are great.