A movement is more than a body of ideas; it’s a body of people connected around those ideas. In a lasting movement, those people span generations.
The day Atlas Shrugged Part II hit theaters, Amanda Luce shared a story about that connection on Facebook. I asked her whether I could share it with you, and she elaborated:
I had been sitting at the bench outside the theater entrance, waiting for the last of the people from the previous show to file out. The old man was one of the last ones coming out, so I smiled at him and shifted so he could see that I was wearing my “Who is John Galt?” T-shirt. He saw the shirt, paused, and walked over to me. “I’ve waited fifty years for this movie,” he said. “It was so much better than I could have imagined.” He looked on the verge of tears. I leaped up and hugged him.
I started gushing to him about everything I had seen at TAS’s summer seminar last July. I can only imagine how glad he had been to see me—a teenager—so excited about Objectivism. He told me that he had read Atlas Shrugged, cover to cover, over twenty times, and that his copy was marked all the way through with red tabs on the best parts. He said that chills had started running through him when the movie began, and he was still feeling them.
As he walked away, I knew that there were not words to describe how he must have felt to finally see this movie come to fruition and know that a new generation would pick up John Galt’s banner. I never knew his name and I will probably never see him again—but it is so wonderful to know that some of the early readers from half a century ago are still around to see this day.
On a morning that began “brighter than daylight,” Dagny Taggart asked Ragnar Danneskjold how many centuries John Galt represented. “None at all,” the pirate replied, in the opening pages of part III of Atlas Shrugged. “None behind him—but all of those ahead.”
What stories like Amanda’s remind us—what we see every year at Atlas Society events—what you may see at your local theater if you go watch Atlas Shrugged Part II —is that John Galt’s centuries have actually begun, not just on the page and on the screen, but in reality.