“What do you want Ellsworth?”
“Power, Petey. I want to rule…. If you learn how to rule one single man’s soul, you can get the rest of mankind…. Want to know how it’s done?… There are many ways. Here’s one. Make man feel small. Make him feel guilty. Kill his aspiration and his integrity. That’s difficult…. Kill integrity by internal corruption…. Direct it towards a goal destructive of all integrity….
“Here’s another. Kill man’s sense of values. Kill his capacity to recognize greatness or to achieve it. Great men can’t be ruled. We don’t want any great men. Don’t deny conception of greatness. Destroy it from within. The great is the rare, the difficult, the exceptional. Set up standards of achievement open to all, to the least, to the most inept—and you stop the impetus to effort in men, great or small. You stop all incentive to improvement, to excellence, to perfection…. Don’t set out to raze all shrines—you’ll frighten men. Enshrine mediocrity—and the shrines are razed.
“Then there’s another way. Kill by laughter. Laughter is an instrument of human joy. Learn to use it as a weapon of destruction. Turn it into a sneer. It’s simple. Tell them to laugh at everything. Tell them that a sense of humor is an unlimited virtue. Don’t let anything remain sacred in a man’s soul—and his soul won’t be sacred to him. Kill reverence and you’ve killed the hero in man. One doesn’t reverence with a giggle. He’ll obey and he’ll set no limits to obedience—anything goes—nothing is too serious.”
Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead
In her nonfiction writings, Ayn Rand spoke of “hatred of the good for being the good”. It’s an idea that almost sounds ridiculous at first—how could somebody look down on something precisely because it is great, special, superior, wonderful? Yet we see it constantly today—the tearing down of heroes, the leveling of greatness, the “razing of shrines”. And in its place, the enshrinement of mediocrity.
You remember the Planet Fitness commercial from a few years back, “I pick things up and put them down”? When it first came out, I laughed. It was well done, after all. And then I remember Rand’s warning: “Kill by laughter. Laughter is an instrument of human joy. Learn to use it as a weapon of destruction. Turn it into a sneer.”
In the commercial, we watch the Planet Fitness employee—a gentleman who, quite frankly, looks like he has never worked out a day in his life—touring a potential new member, a man who has clearly spent a lot of time in the gym, having built his physique into a living statue. We then see the gentleman laying on the prone leg curl machine looking up in fear—again, apparently having just begun his fitness journey, with no appreciable amount of muscle mass. And these individuals are considered the “norm”, the “welcomed”, the “embraced”. All that is not allowed, at Planet Fitness, is actually accomplishing fitness.
(Side note: a wonderful point was made on a bodybuilding message board in response to this commercial: “Whether you’re big or small, fit or unfit, precisely what do you go to the gym to do other than lift things up and put them down?” We’re all there to do the same damn thing, some of us have just excelled more than others!)
“If you learn how to rule one single man’s soul, you can get the rest of mankind…. Want to know how it’s done?… There are many ways. Here’s one. Make man feel small. Make him feel guilty. Kill his aspiration and his integrity. That’s difficult…. Kill integrity by internal corruption…. Direct it towards a goal destructive of all integrity….”Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead
On the bodybuilding message boards, there has been a backlash against the Planet Fitness agenda. Bodybuilding enthusiasts are left with a sour taste in their mouths after viewing Planet Fitness’s commercials, and hearing about their purported “Judgment-Free Zone”, replete with the “no bodybuilders allowed” policy. Many seem to sense the danger, but no one is being explicit enough: no one is recognizing the hatred of the good for being the good.
I refuse to honor the mediocre. I refuse to pretend that the unfit is the standard. I refuse to believe that flaws and sins form the primary backbone of human nature. I refuse to raze shrines. “The great is the rare, the difficult, the exceptional.” I will continue to honor the great. I will respect the difficult. I will worship the exceptional. Because when there is something exceptional, there is something to strive towards. I want my life to be an upward journey, not a dragging down of pinnacles.
-David A. Johnston
David Johnston is the founder and lead trainer of TEAM Warrior Within. You can also listen to him weekely on the GEARD Up podcast. ( GEARDUp.com ) David works with clients ranging from the everyday person just trying to lose weight and get healthy, local and national bodybuilding and physique competitors, to IFBB professional athletes.
David lives and breathes all things related to physique transformation, and has devoted nearly half of his life to passionately studying and educating himself to be the absolute best at what he does. His intensity in the gym is matched only by the passion he gives to his clients.