In the end, what I got from Heinlein’s work–and from Heinlein’s bio, as well–was what Patterson referred to as that “wisdom” which used to be passed down the generations in more traditional societies and which I, as a child of working parents, in the Sixties, missed: that history moves on and human beings are fallible; that there is no perfect system of government; that as adults we have responsibility for ourselves and those in our sphere, and that responsibility cannot be delegated to church, tribe, government or university; that each human is absolutely responsible for oneself, both in actions and in thoughts; that it is the duty of every human being to think and examine his/her position in the world.
I suppose I’ve also caught from him the belief that most people are at heart decent however misguided and that there very few true rotters (something I’ve learned recently is considered a raging liberal belief, and which nonetheless fits my observations over forty odd [occasionally very odd] years of life in three continents), and that the future is always better than the past.
The Church of Heinlein (mildly) Reformed
Yes.. nothing is perfect–not humans, not governments, not institutions, not markets… nothing. All are limited and responsibility grows out of ourselves. All humans have the obligation to “not be dumb” in this world and it would be helpful–although it cannot be forced!–if we all also move beyond the easy and natural attitude of being selfish ==to me often being decent, but misguided in the sense of being too short term about what we want, then the future will always be better than the past–and so far, it always has. There never were the “good old days” unless you count now as the “better days”…
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