Friday, November 07, 2008
the signs are everywhere. . .we just need to see them
“Dagny, the whole world’s in a terrible state right now. I don’t know what’s wrong with it, but something’s very wrong. Men have to get together and find a way out. But who’s to decide which way to take, unless it’s the majority? I guess that’s the only fair method of deciding, I don’t see any other. I suppose somebody’s got to be sacrificed. If it turned out to be me, I have no right to complain. The right’s on their side. Men have to get together.”
She made an effort to speak calmly; she was trembling with anger. “If that’s the price of getting together, then I’ll be damned if I want to live on the same earth with any human beings! If the rest of them can survive only by destroying us, then why should we wish them to survive? Nothing can make self-immolation proper. Nothing can give them the right to turn men into sacrificial animals. Nothing can make it moral to destroy the best. One can’t be punished for being good. One can’t be penalized for ability. If that’s right, then we’d better start slaughtering one another, because there isn’t any right at all in the world!”
He did not answer. He looked at her helplessly.
“If it’s that kind of world, how can we live in it?” she asked.
“I don’t know . . .” he whispered.
“Dan, do you really think it’s right? In all truth, deep down, do you think it’s right?”
He closed his eyes. “No,” he said. Then he looked at her and she saw a look of torture for the first time. “That’s what I’ve been sitting here trying to understand. I know that I ought to think it’s right – but I can’t. It’s as if my tongue wouldn’t turn to say it. I keep seeing every tie of track down there, every signal light, every bridge, every night that I spent when . . .” His head dropped down on his arms. “Oh God, it’s so damn unjust!”
“Dan,” she said through her teeth, “fight it.”
He raised his head. His eyes were empty. “No,” he said. “It would be wrong. I’m just selfish.”
“Oh, damn that rotten tripe! You know better than that!”
“I don’t know . . .” His voice was very tired. “I’ve been sitting here, trying to think about it . . . I don’t know what is right anymore. . . .” He added, “I don’t think I care.”
She knew suddenly that all further words were useless and that Dan Conway would never be a man of action again. She did not know what made her certain of it. She said, wondering, “You’ve never given up in the face of a battle before.”
“No, I guess I haven’t. . . .” He spoke with a quiet, indifferent astonishment. “I’ve fought storms and floods and rock slides and rail fissure. . . . I knew how to do it, and I liked doing it. . . . But this kind of battle – it’s one I can’t fight.”
“I don’t know. Who knows why the world is what it is?”
Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged