“The Only Good on Earth”

‘Dagny, how did you do it? How did you manage to remain unmangled?’

‘By holding to just one rule.’


‘To place nothing—nothing—above the verdict of my own mind.’

‘You’ve taken some terrible beatings … maybe worse than I did ‘ worse than any of us ‘ what held you through it?’

‘The knowledge that my life is the highest of values, too high to give up without a fight.’

She saw a look of astonishment, of incredulous recognition on Cherryl’s face, as if the girl were struggling to recapture some sensation across a span of years. ‘Dagny’—her voice was a whisper—’that’s ‘ that’s what I felt when I was a child ‘ that’s what I seem to remember most about myself ‘ that kind of feeling ‘ and I never lost it, it’s there, it’s always been there, but as I grew up, I thought it was something that I must hide ‘ I never had any name for it, but just now, when you said it, it struck me that that’s what it was ‘ Dagny, to feel that way about your own life—is that good?’

‘Cherryl, listen to me carefully: that feeling—with everything which it requires and implies—is the highest, noblest and only good on earth.’

‘The reason I ask is because I ‘ I wouldn’t have dared to think that. Somehow, people always made me feel as if they thought it was a sin ‘ as if that were the thing in me which they resented and ‘ and wanted to destroy.’

‘It’s true. Some people do want to destroy it. And when you learn to understand their motive, you’ll know the darkest, ugliest and only evil in the world, but you’ll be safely out of its reach.’

— from Ayn Rand’s ‘Atlas Shrugged’


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