Basically defined, ego relates to self-perception, self-awareness, and self-esteem. The word ego implies that one is more important than the collective, and that one is the proper beneficiary of one’s actions. The book, "Anthem," by Ayn Rand, tells a story of one man’s rebellion against a collective society. The story begins in the future where a young man, Equality 7-2521, is writing diary, in a tunnel. He describes his society, where every aspect of life is governed by the World Council from birth to death. No man is allowed to be their own person because it's against the law to be an individual. And it's forbidden to say "I", which is considered a sacred word. Equality 7-2521 has a special gift that he and everyone else thinks is a curse; he can think quicker and is smarter than any of his brothers. Because of this "curse", Equality 7-2521 is assigned the job of a street sweeper. Equality 7-2521 runs away to the Unchartered Forest, where he is joined by a young girl whom he falls in love with who he calls The Golden One. Equality 7-2521’s love, is full of pride and haughtiness. She rejects everyone except Equality 7-2521. She, too, suspects that there is more to the world than collective equality. At first, Equality 7-2521, regrets his differences and tries to be like all his brothers. He tries halfheartedly to be like his brothers and to eliminate all his personal preferences. When he discovers the tunnel, he likes to alone and experiment. International 4-8818 and Golden One make it harder for him to deny his individuality. The discovery of the light bulb pushes him into rebellion against his society. At the end, Equality 7-2521 renames himself Prometheus, and understands the meaning of man’s ego. He develops a sense of pride unknown to his society and declares that his happiness is his only goal, and at last he learns the word “I”. Equality, with the help of his love and his friend, finally discovers who he is as a person, as an individual, and he thinks for himself and wonders about himself and strives to perfect his invention (the light bulb) by himself. In the long run, the meaning of man's ego doesn't necessarily mean to be vain like some people think, but it means to have concern about your own interests, maybe even about silly things such as, "does my hair look okay? What should I wear today?" When someone tells someone else that they have "a giant ego", it means that they think about themselves and talk about themselves in vain too often. But having ego is not a bad thing, because not having an ego (as "Anthem" had showed me) would mean that basically everyone is the same, and no one would even have their own names. Collectivism is a word for when everyone is the same. An example of collectivism would be school uniforms. Everyone would kind of be the same, and no one would have an ego, or in other words, no one would be allowed to express themselves and be an individual because everyone needs to look the same. Equality broke free of a collective society so he could express his ego and start doing things that he's never been allowed to do before, things he wanted to do, such as invent, and be alone, and love. He wanted to lead his own life and pursue his own happiness, and realizes that ego is the source of the highest good on earth.
The Meaning of Man's Ego by Regan Slatic
March 21, 2011