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Interesting Passage IV…

December 19th, 2008 · 6 Comments

From Robert A. Heinlein‘s Starship Troopers (by the way, don’t think for one thin second that this book is anything like the super-cheesy movie of the same title that is very very loosely based on Heinlein’s book):

Regarding Pacifism: “Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst.  Breeds that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and freedoms.” Peace at any cost…what a dangerous thought.

“There are no dangerous weapons; there are only dangerous men.” No weapon that I’m aware of has ever picked itself up, walked itself off the table, aimed itself at the heart of a human being, and pulled its own trigger. It takes a person with a will to use a weapon in a manner that results in harm to another person.

“The noblest fate that a man can endure is to place his own mortal body between his loved home and war’s desolation.” I don’t think another sentence ever written can more accurately describe why each and every citizen of every free country on God’s green Earth should owe a debt of gratitude to the volunteer soldiers that keep those countries free. Within the same book, he also wrote: “Liberty is never unalienable; it must be redeemed regularly with the blood of patriots or it always vanishes.”

“There is an old song which asserts ‘the best things in life are free.‘ Not true! Utterly false! This was the tragic fallacy which brought on the decadence and collapse of the democracies of the twentieth century: thos noble experiments failed because the people had been led to believe that they could simply vote for whatever they wanted…and get it, without toil, without sweat, without tears.” While writing this book in 1959, Heinlein’s take on the path our country was on and what he thought our future might be almost makes him seem Nostradamus-ish when looking at today’s society. He goes on to write: “The best things in life are beyond money, their price is agony and sweat and devotion…and the price demanded for the most precious of all things in life is life itself – ultimate cost for perfect value.”

I particularly like (and wholeheartedly agree with) the following passage. It was written as the main character flashes back to a discussion he and his History and Moral Philosophy professor engaged in regarding corporal punishment being cruel and unusual: “While a judge should be benevolent in purpose, his awards should cause the criminal to suffer, else there is no punishment – and pain is the basic mechanism built into us by millions of years of evolution which safeguards us by warning when something threatens our survival. Why should society refuse to use such a highly perfected survival mechanism? As for ‘unusual,’ punishment must be unusual or it serves no purpose!”

Responsibility is the converse of authority. “Both for practical reasons and for mathematically verifiable moral reasons, authority and responsibility must be equal – else a balancing takes place as surely as current flows between points of unequal potential. To permit irresponsible authority is to sow disaster; to hold a man responsible for anything he does not control is to behave with blind idiocy.” This statement, in my opinion, can be applied to MANY of the political disasters this country has weathered over the past sixty years.

There are a couple reasons I include these posts in this blog. I suppose the main reason is because the passages strike me as very meaningful on many levels, and I want to have them handy for easy recall when I get into discussions regarding current events. Another reason is because I feel it might just be a non-annoying way to give my readers a bit of insight into my ideological leanings (sure beats banner ads and shameless plugs for political candidates, no?). You might be able to venture a guess as to how I voted in last November’s general election by reading the other ‘Interesting Passages’ posts I’ve made (not that its anybody’s business, really…and not that any of you care to begin with).

Robert A. Heinlein’s work is enjoyable to me. It ranges from campy fun to serious social commentary, and the hard science-fiction aspect is also a big draw for me. An avid reader with no Heinlein in their library is a sad thing for me to see.

Tags: Literature

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Knot // Dec 19, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    Loved the movie. Never knew it was based on a book, just thought it was some weird attempt at a B movie.

    I do like what the guy says in the book though, through your quotes. Don’t agree with you on some, but strikingly accurate in any day.


  • 2 TB // Dec 21, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    Good to have you back G.C., what’s your take on the Continental flight? I’m assuming an RTO near V1 with some form of failure in regards to directional control?

  • 3 gcalvin // Dec 21, 2008 at 10:36 pm

    It probably isn’t a good idea to assume anything. I hadn’t heard about it, but I’ll look at it. You won’t catch me prognosticating, however.

  • 4 TB // Dec 22, 2008 at 3:58 am

    Fair enough, and you’re exactly right. It is wrong to assume.

  • 5 gcalvin // Dec 22, 2008 at 4:01 am

    Not to be rude, above. I just know that without having been there, it is very difficult to accurately determine what exactly occurred before the final NTSB report comes out.

  • 6 TB // Dec 22, 2008 at 6:46 am

    No worries, never crossed my mind, and truly I do appreciate the reminder.

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