I was trying to attribute a quote to someone when I ran across the entry for one of my favorite authors, Robert Heinlein. This man was a graduate of the Naval Academy, a brilliant mind and author of great literary works.
The most recent work of his that I've read is Starship Troopers - many of you who have seen the movie of the same title might be rolling your eyes. Be assured that the only thing the two have in common is their title and a few character names. The book is EXCELLENT - it has great commentary on the role of citizens, the military and the government, as well as visionary descriptions of the future of warfare and society.
One of his quotes that I had never read struck a deep chord for me:
'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.'
Heinlein appears to be an atheist, very mistrusting of religion, but I'll forgive him that based on his solid morals and values. Here's a few other gems:
- Courage is the complement of fear. A man who is fearless cannot be courageous. (He is also a fool.)
- A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
- A generation which ignores history has no past — and no future.
- Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.
- An armed society is a polite society.
- Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.
- The more you love, the more you can love — and the more intensely you love. Nor is there any limit on how many you can love. If a person had time enough, he could love all of that majority who are decent and just.
- You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don't ever count on having both at once.
- You live and learn. Or you don't live long.
- Your enemy is never a villain in his own eyes. Keep this in mind; it may offer a way to make him your friend. If not, you can kill him without hate — and quickly.