I delivered the following speech to the FHS Class of 2002 and assembled parents, faculty, etc.

Before I begin, please note the word "man," and all such related terms, are used generally.

Whether or not you realize it, society has been sending you a very clear message from the onset of your life. You've been told the ego is unimportant, that individuality is subordinate to altruism. You've been expected to give, indiscriminately, your time and effort in the service of others. You've been told to put your own desires and wishes on the back burner so that you may serve the motives of others. You've been instructed never to take a risk without consulting someone first. Humility, you've heard, is the greatest of virtues, and that moral perfection is achieved through self-sacrifice. You've been told it's wrong to think of yourself before others, and you should always serve the interests of others before your own. In short, the message you've been receiving is simply, "Selfishness is wrong. Selflessness is right." This is the greatest fraud ever perpetuated by society. Tonight, you will hear an eye-opening message very unlike those you will hear in the coming days.

The United States of America is the greatest country in the world because it was founded on the basic principle that every human has a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. However, the values that dominate our society today are very different than those the founding fathers had in mind. Is it any mystery why more teenagers are depressed than ever before, when society has preached self-sacrifice over personal satisfaction? Is it a coincidence that so many young people feel uninspired and unmotivated to succeed, when they have been told these selfish desires are not as important as helping others? Self-esteem and confidence are becoming increasingly rare characteristics among Americans. Society has annihilated the importance of the individual, while ignoring the fact that a society is nothing but a collection of individuals.

Fortunately, there is an alternate philosophy, which is practiced by many thousands of people in virtually every country in the world. It's called "Objectivism," and it's a radically different way of thinking about life and the world around you. One of the basic tenets of Objectivism holds that your life is an end in itself, not a means to some higher end. Your own happiness and fulfillment are the ultimate goals of your life, and these can only be attained by serving your own rational self-interest. Make no mistake; selfishness does not constitute exploiting others for personal gain. True selfishness is following your own dreams, achieving great things for yourself, and seeking success and happiness in your own life, while recognizing and respecting these same rights in other people. Incidentally, you benefit from the selfishness of others, just as they benefit from yours.

Consider the example of the Microsoft Corporation, one of the most moral companies in modern America. Its productivity software has enabled thousands of businesses to operate more efficiently and productively, and its operating systems are the industry standard. Microsoft has reaped enormous profits from its innovative genius, and thus has paid millions of dollars in taxes, and provided its scores of employees with comfortable incomes for the better part of two decades. What makes these details all the more incredible is that they stemmed from the virtue of selfishness, and one man's pursuit of success, wealth, and happiness. Ask yourself - is selfishness wrong?

Now examine the moral opposite, selflessness. A man's only means of survival and success in life is rational thought. This process cannot be substituted, shared, or transferred. Therefore, each individual is responsible for his own fate. By denying this very basic law of nature, a selfless man not only fails to satisfy himself, but also contributes nothing to society. A skyscraper is not erected through a creative compromise. Beethoven did not consult his friends or family before composing nine of the most breathtaking musical works in all of history. Self-sacrifice will not yield a cure for cancer; it will be discovered by a determined, confident, free thinking individual. Also consider that selflessness and the destruction of the ego are the central components of Communism, and are what gave rise to the atrocities of the Nazi regime. Ask yourself - is selflessness right?

More than anything, Objectivism is a philosophy of life and happiness. It recognizes and encourages the infinite potential within each human mind, and the rights of man to exist. Objectivists are glad to be alive, and work hard to achieve their aspirations. Since when do happiness and morality have to be in conflict? Why do so many of us fear that humans are doomed to pain and failure? In the name of the best within you, I hope you give Objectivism some serious thought. If you have been thoroughly interested, moderately intrigued, or even somewhat curious about the ideas I've presented, I highly encourage you to learn more. There is much more to learn about the exciting, inspiring, and optimistic philosophy of Objectivism from libraries, campus clubs, and the Internet. I will close with the immortal words of John Galt from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. "I swear - by my life and my love of it - that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine." I hope you all find great success and happiness in whatever path you choose through life.