Miracles are creations of the soul and spirit. Although they can be experienced through the senses, they are invisible to those who will not “believe” in God. It is in the richness of everyday simple miracles, the power of the phenomenal miraculous event, and the grand panorama of God’s wisdom that the Earth is seen in all its glory.
Unfortunately, when miracles disappear, the world is a much poorer place, and it was with great sadness that Joe’s perception was now one of soulless darkness and despair.
It appeared as if God had withdrawn his grace and mercy from America and the nations of the world.
The Wisdom of God
Throughout history, nations and peoples suffered when they abused religious and moral principles. However, as civilization advanced, mankind had found it convenient to ignore the biblical lessons of the past. The ancient concepts of sin and repentance were lost in a hedonistic rush to physical pleasure. Forgotten were the warnings of an almighty God.
Joe remembered the story of the Tower of Babel from his childhood. Nimrod, one of the great grandson’s of Noah, became a powerful leader of his people. Unfortunately, rather than pay homage to the true God, he worshipped the sun.
Nimrod and his followers decided to build a tower to the sun. Work commenced quickly and a great tower began to rise. But then God intervened and delivered some important lessons.
The first lesson was that pride goes before a fall. Mankind, rather than using what God had freely given, ignored His limits and became enamored of technological progress and man-made material things. The second lesson was that God would prevent mankind from abusing His creation.
To undermine the Tower of Babel, God spread confusion among the tower builders. He separated the continents, created multiple races, and gave each race a distinct language. By making communications as difficult as possible, God prevented the corruption that inherently evolves when people organize toward thoughtless ends.
The Sands of Time
Virtually everything known to science had been thrown at the Gulf’s continuing disaster. Unfortunately, regardless of the efforts, there was an increase in the number of horrific natural events. To add to this chaos, undisciplined human attempts at problem solving had made things worse.
Brutal decisions had to be made. A limited cadre of people needed to be set aside and protected. A healthy mix of animals and plants, along with critical materials and equipment, had to be obtained. All must be useful for hundreds or even thousands of years. Would a second “Noah’s Ark” be as successful as the first?
Assuming that the emerging extinction event was survivable, the world would at some point have to be deemed safe for the re-entry of life. The hope was that repopulation could then occur and that civilization would evolve from the point at which it left off. The prayer was for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to fall and never rise again.
The Dominance of Freedom
In far too many places on the Earth, mankind had been subjugated or enslaved by government. People were not used to thinking for themselves let alone organizing to act. This was the tragedy of political arrogance and governmental tyranny, and it affected far too many when it came to survival decisions.
There were, of course, places where liberty had not been oppressed. Where a moral citizenry was empowered by their government to be self-sufficient. These people could face the devastation of the here and now with an uplifting and hopeful view of life. And it would be these people who would lead the world into the future.
The rallying cry of those who understood the importance of morality and liberty to a successful future world came from the Battle Hymn of the Republic:
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free
The Return of Galt
In her internationally famous novel “Atlas Shrugged,” Ayn Rand introduced a heroic figure who advanced the causes of individual freedom and the right of individuals to prosper from their creativity and hard work.
John Galt was a counter-cultural figure caught in a society where a stifling bureaucracy, controlled by a corrupt socialistic leadership, undermined the idealism and goodness of mankind. Galt despised this “culture” because it extolled the virtues of collective justice, made captives of free men, stole from the creative and productive, and promoted moral debasement. In response to the flaws and failures of socialism, Galt persuaded the productive geniuses who powered the America to withhold their wealth creating efforts. Predictably, socialism collapsed under the weight of its own selfishness.
In every age, a John Galt appears to remind mankind of its responsibilities, and to undo the damage done by excessive governmental interference into man’s affairs. Joe Barristar adapted the words of John Galt when condemning the socialists and their ilk:
Yes, this is an age of crisis. Yes, you are bearing punishment for your evil. But it is not man who is now on trial and it is not human nature that will take the blame. It is you. And if you wish to go on living, what you now need is not to return to morality but to discover it.
And he would often add, “Free men demand this”.
Joe remembered the 20/80 rule that simply said that 20% of the people do 80% of the work regardless of its nature. The Atlas Empowered society was built on this premise.
The question was how to recruit. What criteria would be used? Unlike the collectivist societies that pitted groups against each other, Atlas Empowered was to be built on individuals who demonstrated productivity, entrepreneurial success, courage, vision, and generosity of spirit.
The Empowered’s leadership realized that there needed to be some limited governmental structure. Since the Constitution, with its Bill of Rights, was divinely inspired, it was chosen for this purpose. It was recognized, however, that changes had to be made. The Constitution had originally been built for a large, diverse, and scattered citizenry.
Since the spiritual and moral decline of far too many societies was obvious, the re-empowerment of religion became an important consideration. All of the world’s religions had common themes, but only one had proved to be successful over time. The book of that religion was the Bible.
There was no question that Atlas Empowered entailed a huge effort. Thanks to an exhaustive study of the survival situation, it was decided that 1,300 people would be interviewed and recruited. And every individual recruited would have to recognize that they would be in isolation for their entire lives, and their future families committed for an indeterminate period.
Location, Location, Location
It is impossible to hide from God and nearly as impossible to keep a secret. Therefore, Atlas Empowered leaders decided to hide in plain sight. Psychologically, this would acclimate the general population to the normal comings and goings of construction and manning.
More than one location was built. This was done to prevent saboteurs from focusing on any one site and also to give those who did not make the final recruiting pool at least some form of refuge.
Potential recruits were invited to visit the planned location and then decide for themselves if they and their families could live a lifetime in such a place.
Each potential recruit was given a code that would be activated if and when extinction events posed an immediate threat to survival. However, the chosen were not identified until the final moment – which came on the wings of a massive worldwide lightening storm.
As with the airline industry, Atlas Empowered’s selected site was deliberately overbooked. It was certain that some would fail to make it to the site and others would recant their initial acceptance. Regardless, once the massive gate was closed, those who were inside were sealed from the world.
Significantly, none of these first brave men, women, and children were destined to see the day when the Earth once again thrived for mankind’s use.
Civilization had promoted the growth of population by meeting human needs through technological efficiencies that favored centralized planning and decision-making. However, a civilization based on centralization was no longer practical. The relevant question was how could Atlas Empowered achieve the advantages of a centralized past within a decentralized framework that favored personal independence and responsibility?
To inspire creative thinking on the question, Joe postulated a complex food supply problem:
Long gone automated factory farms had produced a food crop at a small fraction of the cost of the smaller family farms. To achieve cost efficiencies, factory farms had used a specialized fertilizer industry. How would an advanced but decentralized food supply system work, and what needed to be done now?
The food and fertilizer question was but one area where the dominance of centralized actions had created dependences and stifled innovation in decentralization. Transportation, communications, climate control, water and waste treatment, electricity and lighting, manufacturing, heavy industry, safety, and security had all become centralized. It had been assumed by the politicians of the world that cities could not exist without centralized support structures – this in the face of individual demands for independence and the empowerment of liberty.
Joe reminded his analytical recruits of a major dispute within the United States Navy about the aircraft carrier fleet:
The conventional wisdom was that aircraft carriers were an imposing presence, and were needed to project power and control the seas. This argument was clearly one that focused on the importance of centralization to the success of the Navy afloat.
The opposing argument was that carriers were “high value” targets, and a single strike could send one, with its large numbers of aircraft and thousands of sailors, to the bottom of the sea. Therefore, it was best to decentralize aviation assets throughout the fleet.
With tens of billions of dollars at stake, and the Navy hierarchy strongly opposed to an outcome that might put naval assets on merchant ships, the centralized argument held. However, in the end, aviation assets were also distributed to other less costly ships of the fleet.
The message of the example was clear. Centralization is not a panacea. It can be challenged successfully, and decentralization may only be partially needed.
Joe Barristar – In Memoriam
Although Joe was one of the founders of Atlas Empowered, he was too old and ill to participate in its construction and operation. Brother Samuel T.S. Barristar noted that from his birth in Philadelphia, through his life as an engineer and visionary, till his death in a place unknown, Joe was always a beacon of truth.
Joe left the following request to be used on whatever memorial might be created in his honor. It read “Through faith all things are possible.” To this was added, “Honored by the Way, the Truth, and the Life”.
The truth can be orphaned but it cannot be changed. For Atlas Empowered to prosper, its people not only had to believe in truth but practice using it as if it were an independent power or even life itself. It could not be a servant to any politician, government, ideology, technology, or financial interest. Thus the first requirement of the new world was that truth must reflect reality and its distortion treated as serious affront to all.
In the past, truth had been treated as an unwelcome stranger. Truth was feared because it disturbed the mind and undermined common sense. Those in positions of power, once given to truth telling, became creatures who hid it under the guise of “protecting the unenlightened.” Those few who spoke the truth openly ran the risk of being marginalized or even jailed as enemies of society.
Truth cannot be fabricated and it should not be embellished. Yes, it can be hurtful and unproductive. Yes, it is sometimes magnified by arrogance and other times hidden in a still small voice. But truth, whatever it is and however it arrives, frees man to explore the realities of life.
The truth is not found in lies. Pernicious and clever deceptions divide and conquer. History is filled with the destruction wrought by the subtle lies of propaganda. Lies must be fought as if life itself depended on it.
The greatest truths are absolute in nature, yet many people were coerced into thinking that truth was relative and without foundation. God’s good Earth lay in silent contradiction.
All truths are not equal. Yet many people believed that the inequality of competing truths did not matter. If this were so, then how would anyone separate good from evil and judge right and wrong? The convoluted answer of the past was that all must be tolerated and accepted. Thus the enduring and ugly legacy of political correctness.
Truth is a blessing from God. It shows His glory and majesty, and exposes mankind’s limits and need for humility. It exposes collectivism as an enslaving evil, a denial of the human soul and spirit.