The first time I experienced a barrage of ‘Qassam’ rockets was a defining moment in my life. The reality of war impelled me to better understand conflict so I read profusely on the matter. Finding an inverse correlation between conflict and free and open societies led me to delve deeper into the foundations of said societies, hoping to better understand the mechanisms and principles necessary to prevent rises in authoritarianism. However, my parents directed me toward collectivist thinking as my mom is a devout altruist and my father the author of a socialist novel. Growing up, these ideals were held dearly to me and despite my inquisitive nature, asking many questions, I did not question.
After high school I was conscripted into the Israeli Defence Forces and spent 3 years as a fighter. Whilst I extracted much value from my service, I experienced first-hand what it is like to exist as a number in a system of absolute authority, where compliance equals survival. I finished my service with nary a punishment and received a certificate of excellence for my efforts, morale, and outstanding compliance. In the year that followed, whilst I decided to move to the UK and pursue higher education, I did not know myself. What are my passions? This question I could not answer, and since obtaining a degree was of higher importance to me than pursuing knowledge, economics seemed like a stable choice.
Within the first few months at university I found myself in an all too familiar situation. The ‘progressive’ liberals I believed to have aligned with ideologically necessitated wholehearted agreement on all matters, a surrender of the mind, absolute compliance. I was faced with a dilemma, the greatest dilemma man has ever faced, to think or not to think. I broke free of the movement, yet after a few months of soul searching, once again, I was captured. Conservatism had found me. This radical ideological transition was accompanied by evasion, induced by resentment toward my previously held ideology. Only months later did I realise that I replaced one form of tyranny with another and it dawned on me, I need liberty.
I took it upon myself to found a Liberty Society at my university and was successful in doing so. As president, I had the pleasure of interacting with each liberty loving member and at first was astounded by how differently the concept is interpreted. Classical liberals, anarchists, Marxists, and many others all come together for my events, yet I was only introduced to Objectivism when a speaker I invited was protested against. I felt compelled to learn more about the philosophy ‘they’ did not want me to hear, and I discovered Ayn Rand, the present end to my ideological and philosophical journey.
For the first time in my life, with the prodigious aid of Rand and her writings, I felt, and feel that I am beginning to truly understand the world, and myself, from philosophical foundations upwards. I had always portrayed my beliefs confidently but deep down feared the confrontation of whys. Rand’s ideas have freed me of this fear. I embraced selfishness, I reassessed my values, I began pursuing real happiness. On the one hand, for myself, I capitalised on numerous opportunities I had been postponing or evading, I rekindled my artistic effort, I did away with several relationships, and beyond all I began to think. On the other, for myself, I introduced my friends and members to Objectivism, eager to ‘create’ other selfish individuals. I have been successful in all of my efforts, even those where I have failed. Finally, after years of thinking as we, I was able to simply be Ely.