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I am proud of affecting those around me

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I hope it's ok for me to use this forum subset for this. I am somewhat proud of how I have been affecting those around me, and would like to share that pride with people I respect. (that would be others on this forum :))

While there are several people in this world I truly love, there are four in particular who are around often enough for me to affect them, and for them to affect me. My parents, my sister, and my boyfriend. I shall start by describing the effects I've had on my parents' ways of thinking, then my sister's, and then my boyfriend's, since that's the order in which they personally affect me, from least to most.

My mother is usually fairly quiet when it comes to philosophical discussions, since it is my father who is the dominant personality in that relationship, and I rarely talk with one without the other present. However, I do know she is semi-religious, having been brought up in a Protestant family, and having been active in a church for most of her life. I strongly believe that my influence in her life has brought her closer to being agnostic than truly Christian. As a direct result of my influence, she is most of the way through Atlas, although she is reading it slowly. I have hopes for the future that she will drop her involvement with a church entirely, and perhaps decide children can be raised morally without a god, when I undertake that particular goal. Morality has, I think, been her sticking-point for believing in God.

My father, raised Catholic, has directly admitted that he is, at most, agnostic, and is involved with church mostly for a sense of community at this point, and also because he likes being involved with the youth group there. (Where, by the way, he uses his influence to suggest that the entire Bible is supposed to be a moral guide, a fable, instead of God's word.) While I have failed in getting him to read Atlas (he's not much of a reader) I have brought him back to reality on multiple occasions where his envy of those richer than him directs his thinking. I have also helped him change his method of arguing, by pointing out that he intentionally hurts those he loves when he is upset, and that he takes out his anger at one person on others. He understands that these actions are detrimental to his life and now tries to avoid them, and sincerely apologizes when he does not. My greatest influence on him has been his focus. I have helped him realize that it is not only o.k. to be selfish, but that it is often a good thing. He still balks at calling selfishness 'moral', however, although I think he considers that true and simply has trouble admitting it to himself.

My sister has been the hardest one of those close to me to affect in a positive way. While she and I differ vastly in philosophy, we align closely with the results, and as we live together and generally enjoy each others company I do what I can to help her find a more rational basis for her ideas, as this would make my own life a great deal more pleasant. Just recently she declared herself a subjectivist, claiming that since we cannot perceive the world as others do, we each live in a different version of reality and therefore cannot determine a true right or wrong. During the ensuing argument I discovered that she determines what she should do based on whether it is functional in her life or not; I also got her to admit that she does consider some things wrong, by using slavery as an example. Immediately after I brought up the slavery example, she said she thought it might be right for some people if the master treated his slaves well; when I responded that what I thought was wrong was the lack of choice on the slaves' part, she thought about it and agreed. I hope to use this example again as something that is true no matter what perception you are coming from, since there can be no case in which it is right for the slave to not have a choice. I have a long way to go to persuade her to even listen closely to what I have to say, but I have at least done something.

My boyfriend has also been a challenge. I love him and intend to marry him, but although he is capitalist, individualist, and atheist, it is partially for pragmatic reasons. Recently, though, he has taken to arguing with a few avowed socialists online, and this has given me many opportunities to help him discover why the things he holds true are so. Arguing about the difference between a right and a privilege does wonders for discovering why one believes as one does, and for converting a mere belief into solid knowledge. He knows of my slow study of philosophy, and so he comes to me when his own arguments fail. I know that I will always be more passionate about protecting my freedom than he will be about protecting his, but I hope to help him understand that he ought to have the right to something even if he never intends to exercise it. I think, as a result of respecting me and what I say, he is now more principled in his defense of capitalism than he was before he and I began dating, as well as more sure of his position regarding religion.

As for myself and my own sense of philosophy, I owe much to the people in this forum. Since I am more interested in reading fiction novels, I have not yet read Ayn Rand's nonfiction thoroughly, although I own many of the works; and much of what I understand of Objectivism has been a direct result of the forum topics here, and the responses to them. I first read Atlas Shrugged in early 2004, and it was two years after that before I read it again and truly understood the ideas in the novel. I have been shaping myself into a happier person over the past three years with the help of this forum and the willingness of those here to discuss the ideas and applications of Objectivism. Now that I am closer to the person I want (and ought) to be, I can help others find the same path, making my own life better as a result. I am proud of myself for the positive changes I have made in my life and in the lives of those close to me, and I thank everyone here for their role in my own growth.

I would like to note that I do not preach (or at least I try not to, I'm sure I do sometimes) and that the influences I've described are from times when my opinions are asked for and expected. My family makes it known if they think I am pushing a viewpoint on them :) (one of many reasons why I respect them.) Instead I simply try to show why reality and human nature implies certain principles, and most of the time I get that right.

I would enjoy hearing stories from others, about how you've affected those around you, or made your life better by finding like-minded people to surround yourselves with, or tips on being more effective in my discussions with family, or any other comments, if you care to post.

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