Letter to SOLOists

Matt Ballin


It's a damned good thing I'm a Sense Of Life Objectivist, or I would have just lost all my hope for humanity. I woke up this morning and dragged myself immediately to the computer, signed on, and checked my email. I saw the Freedom News Daily email titled "Terrorist attacks on World Trade Center, Pentagon." I thought it was some sort of tasteless parody. I opened it, and linked to the page on nando.net, a site I had never heard of. I saw the title come up, with a picture of an airplane on a collision course with one of the Twin Towers, and still thought it must be a joke - but I was starting to wonder. So I went to CNN.com - and there it was. It was real.

I was PISSED. I have no other way to put it. I felt rage and disgust at the savages that could justify to themselves such an action. I was angry for the dead, I was angry for the living. I was angry for the innocence that Americans had lost, that feeling that everyone SHOULD be able to have, that "it can't happen here." It can - but it shouldn't, and in a world of rational men, it wouldn't.

I was too shocked to think the issue all the way through. I thought of those glorious symbols and products of freedom, those towering statements of ability which had been shattered. I thought of the people who were crushed. I thought of the men and women who had to watch those towers motionlessly advancing toward their own eyes, seeing the city that they loved fly beneath them as they soared to their death. I thought of the bastards who caused it.

Then, a headline hit my eyes. An editorial entitled "Time to Pray." WHAT THE FUCK?!? Isn't that just the problem here? Haven't they noticed that it is the very reliance on divinity, the hatred of this material world and those who are successful in it, which impels some to kill? Perhaps not. Perhaps I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, and assume that they're just too stupid to notice that in an emergency, one acts to end the emergency - one doesn't just sit around prone, hands in front of bowed face, hoping somebody else will make it all ok.

I went to my classes. They passed uneventfully - we were unsettled, but business went on as usual - though with perhaps an extra layer of glaze over the eyes of all the students, and too many twitching legs. After my last class, I went to the main student building on campus to pass the time before the Objectivist Forum meeting. Students were gathered around every television in the building, staring with eyes projecting something I've never seen before on so many faces - a peculiar sense of intense focus mixed with the blank gaze of a junkie. They were people trying to comprehend something which their mind resisted; the looks on their faces were the outer appearance of an internal battle, the fight to believe the unbelievable.

I'm home now, having just listened to Bush's mercifully short address to the nation. Unlike Clinton, who would have been there all night feeling our pain, he played the role of a statesman. His speech was full of symbolism which would have been trite if it was not so appropriate; he outlined his administration's intended policy (which was ruthlessly reasonable), and got off the stage. I could expect nothing more of a politician; I could ask nothing more of a man.

Others have spoken of retribution, and I concur. However, I don't want to discuss it. I would like to commend the spirit of benevolence which was everywhere today, under such stressful circumstances. I'd like to thank everyone on the SOLO Forum who spoke with both passion and thought. Barbara, thank you for the news; Aracelis, thank you for taking the time to tell us what it was like being just miles from ground zero, and thank you particularly for your beautiful message to me offlist - it was tragically poetic, and quite appropriate; Cameron Pritchard, The Kaytons, and Sam Pierson for your attention; and finally, to Bill Grazier, who I will quote to drive the point home:

"Although those bastards can kill our citizens, they'll never kill the human spirit, never extinguish joy or love or friendship... as long as we maintain our strength and dignity, then these bastards will never defeat us."

Damned right they won't.