I Grok Pithy Quotes

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Aside from general entertainment, writers, like other artists, can make known ideas that reflect the times, societal shifts, succinct or extrapolated truths, etc.  Or, they can completely overreach and spew nonsense.  In the case of Stranger in a Strange Land, perhaps Heinlein tried to insert too much of his observations about life, politics, religion, and humanity into a fictional piece, but I have to give credit that, if he intended to so, he certainly provided a premise that allowed a wide latitude.

He also provided a very memorable character, Jubal Hershaw, to give voice to the humanity that Heinlein seeks to express.   He’s an philosophizing and crafty aged fiction writer comfortable enough to say what he thinks because he’s smarter than the next guy and too old to fear the the consequences.  Don’t ask him something if you don’t want an opinion.  And the Man from Mars is his receptive audience.

Anyway, here are some short quotes for contemplation.

 

“A desire not to butt into other people's business is at least eighty percent of all human wisdom.”

Sounds... well, wise, but that leaves many areas of wisdom to cram into the remaining 20%.  The truth-o-meter says Liar, Liar, pants on fire.

 

“Thinking doesn't pay. Just makes you discontented with what you see around you.”

This reminds me of a quote from Francis 7 in Logan’s Run, “You know, when you question, it slows you down.”  The quote overreaches, as just as one could wish for a better dishwasher, less poverty, or a complete rewriting and filming of Star Wars I-III, thinking can also result in gratitude, charity and invention.  Maybe he’s just posing as a curmudgeon, but you have to wathc out for any “big idea” that lacks a clear context.

 

'Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.'

I like this one.  It reverberates with The Five Love Languages, which emphasizes that “love” is most appreciated in a specific way, but we have to understand our partner’s love language and make a decision to express it in that way.  That said, we must recognize that love begins and remains within a decision, not a feeling.  Heinlein’s quote nicely pairs with that.

 

“Democracy is a poor system of government at best; the only thing that can honestly be said in its favor is that it is eight times as good as any other method the human race has ever tried.”

True enough, but we don’t live within a democracy.  We live within a representative democracy.  It may be eight times as good, but perhaps it just takes 8 times as long for Lord Acton’s poison to work, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."  It’s sad, really.

 

Government!  Three fourths parasitic and the rest stupid fumbling.  Hershaw conceded that man, a social animal, could not avoid government, any more than any man could escape bondage to his bowels.  But simply because an evil was inescapable was no reason to term it “good.”

Well, not to get too political, but power draws money, and the D.C. metro area ranks third in the United States, behind San Francisco and New York City.  It’s not because of the entertainment industry, or the financial sector, or technological innovation, or any semblance of productive value that pushes the nation’s gross domestic product forward.   It’s the drain.  In sum, the median income represents the personal take for those who govern and the sycophants who persuade those in power regarding the disposition of the wealth confiscated from taxpayers (and debt buyers). 

In the Old Testament, god’s chosen people rejected the model of government offered as a theocracy.  Instead, they wanted a king like the pagan neighbors around them.  See 1 Samuel 8: 6-20.   In short, the King will take, and you will be come his slaves.  v. 20 is also interesting that they wanted a king to lead them and go and fight their battles.  In a figurative sense, they want to be dependent, and that’s where we are today.  Different people, different times, but we got what we asked for.

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