Quote(s) of the Day.

I’m sorry I missed this last week while I was working, but July 7 was the 100th anniversary of Robert Anson Heinlein’s birth. RAH is, as I have previously noted, one of the people most responsible for the development of my personal philosophy. His writing influenced me greatly as an adolescent and into adulthood. As Dale at Mostly Cajun wrote last week, “He’s categorized as a science fiction writer, but if you’re looking for rayguns and spaceships, Heinlein is not what you read. You read Heinlein for people and philosophy, the kind of people who stand on their own two feet, who shoulder the load, who believe, who love life and have passions, people who draw lines and say, this far, and no further.” But that’s not the QotD. The next line in that post is:

The nation could do a lot worse than require Heinlein to be promoted in schools instead of Maya Angelou.

Roger that.

Dale selected his favorite quote from the book The Notebooks of Lazarus Long – a collection originally printed as “intermissions” between chapters in the novel Time Enough for Love. There are so many excellent quotes in that book that a single favorite is very hard to come by, but here’s three of mine:

Political tags — such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth — are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.

The two highest achievements of the human mind are the twin concepts of “loyalty” and “duty”. Whenever these twin concepts fall into disrepute — get out of there fast! You may possibly save yourself, but it is too late to save that society. It is doomed.

Do not confuse “duty” with what other people expect of you; they are utterly different. Duty is a debt you owe to yourself to fulfill obligations you have assumed voluntarily. Paying that debt can entail anything from years of patient work to instant willingness to die. Difficult it may be, but the reward is self-respect.

But there is no reward at all for doing what other people expect of you, and to do so is not merely difficult, but impossible. It is easier to deal with a footpad than it is with the leech who wants “just a few minutes of your time, please — this won’t take long.” Time is your total capital, and the minutes of your life are painfully few. If you allow yourself to fall into the vice of agreeing to such requests, they quickly snowball to the point where these parasites will use up 100 percent of your time — and squawk for more!

So learn to say No — and be rude about it when necessary.

Otherwise you will not have time to carry out your duty, or to do your own work, and certainly no time for love and happiness. The termites will nibble away your life and leave none of it for you.

(This rule does not mean that you must not do a favor for a friend, or even for a stranger. But let the choice be yours. Don’t do it because it is “expected” of you.)

Damn, I miss that man.

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