Wisdom found in sci-fi : Heinlein

The Morning news – Morning news columnist Becca Bacon Martin wrote about wisdom that can be found in sci-fi and especially in Heinlein’s books. This is what she come up with:

It’s not too late for New Year’s resolutions. (I know because I haven’t delivered my last Christmas gift yet!) Longtime readers of The Morning News should know these words by heart, though, because I reprint them every year. They originally belonged to the father of science fiction, Robert Heinlein.

Heinlein almost certainly didn’t consider excerpts from the notebooks of his most famous character, Lazarus Long, “resolutions.” He denied they were wisdom, for that matter. But his approach to life has colored so many of my attitudes about so many things, and what he wrote in “Time Enough for Love” (1973) is better than anything I could ever think up myself.

So, with hat tipped to the late Mr. Heinlein, who is, I hope, bellied up to a bar somewhere in Boondock, I give you these borrowed words to live by as the holidays of 2007 roll into the doldrums of January 2008:

* Certainly the game is rigged. Don’t let that stop you; if you don’t bet, you can’t win.

* Always listen to experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done, and why. Then do it.

* Delusions are often functional. A mother’s opinions about her children’s beauty, intelligence, goodness, etc., ad nauseam, keep her from drowning them at birth.

* A generation which ignores history has no past — and no future.

* If you don’t like yourself, you can’t like other people.

* Avoid making irrevocable decisions while tired or hungry. (Circumstances can force your hand. So think ahead!)

* A woman is not property, and husbands who think otherwise are living in a dreamworld.

* 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.

* 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.

* The shamans are forever yakking about their snake-oil “miracles.” I prefer the real McCoy — a pregnant woman.

* A competent and self-confident person is incapable of jealousy in anything. Jealousy is invariably a symptom of neurotic insecurity.

* You live and learn. Or you don’t live long.

* The phrase “we (I) (you) simply must –” designates something that need not be done. “That goes without saying” is a red warning. “Of course” means you had best check it yourself. These small-change cliches and others like them, when read correctly, are reliable channel markers.

* Do not handicap children by making their lives easy.

* Always tell her she is beautiful, especially if she is not.

* Sovereign ingredient for a happy marriage: Pay cash or do without. Interest charges not only eat up a household budget, awareness of debt eats up domestic felicity.

* Another ingredient for a happy marriage: Budget the luxuries first!

* And still another: See to it that she has her own desk — then keep your hands off it!

* And another: In a family argument, if it turns out you are right — apologize at once!

* Keep your children short on pocket money — but long on hugs.

* A committee is a life form with six or more legs and no brain.

* Sin lies only in hurting other people unnecessarily. All other ‘sins’ are invented nonsense. (Hurting yourself is not sinful — just stupid.)

Amen, brother!


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