"The two highest achievements of the human mind
are the twin concepts of "loyalty" and "duty".
Whenever these twin concepts fall into disrepute,
get out of there fast! You may possibly save yourself,
but it is too late to save that society. It is doomed."
Robert A. Heinlein
(1907-1988) American writer
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Reader comments about this quote:
I believe if the referenced 'loyalty' is to Divinely given principle and law; and the 'duty' is to God, family, fellow man, and country {"Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law." (Rom 13:8); "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise." (Luke 6:31)} Robert A. Heinlein's statement is a very powerful and accurate one. Loyalty and duty may be defined more finitely but, the further from the here stated definition goes, the weaker and less accurate the statement will be.
 -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Yes Robert; we have eyes yet we are blind, we have a mind yet we are fools, we have a heart but it is cold.
     -- Robert, Sarasota     
    Luckilly Heinlein saw thru to the base issues of human nature, including our inventions of such marvels as "the divine"... he saw that these principles are not limited to abstract and limited human inventions as "god", but rather to the more basic concrete and yet expansive inventions such as society itself (as he explicitly referenced in his words).
     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US     
    I grew up reading Robert Heinlein's Si-Fi books and in most of his books, if you have "eyes to see and ears to hear" you can see his faith in GOD. And the true difference between the true right and wrong! It is a shame that todays writters are more interested in gutter talk and trash!
     -- pastor ray, Graysville     
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    Loyalty can be as destructive as any other destructive thing, if given to whom or what does not deserve it. As far as duty, "I was only following orders."
     -- David L. Rosenthal, Hollywood     
    Loyalty and faith in God, His Word, and in keeping oaths and Covenant as in the Marriage Covenant. Further, loyalty to spouse and children in the light of fulfilling God's assignments to us as His children is enabled because of Jesus indwelling in us. The use of duty is appropriate in light of Christian duty, as God gives us the light.
     -- Alan, Wellsboro, Pa     
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    Bullshit. This kind of thinking is what's destroying peace and democracy everywhere. If he had said "loyalty to humankind" and "duty to follow the principles of the golden rule" he would have truly said something.
     -- Dick, Fort Worth     
    Heinlein's got it right, and anyone who's read him knows his specific ethical hierarchy. Dick's "humankind" is a convenient abstraction - but slippery when you get to the specifics. Spouse, family, God - the way I approach those things I can be pinned down upon.
     -- Barry, Phoenix     
    Wow... Heinlein certainly never intended this to apply to religion! If anything his writings show disdain for religious beliefs. This is also not a all for blind obedience, as can be seen from his many other writings. All he is saying is the higher callings of Duty and Loyalty to a society and one another are critical to the survival of a society. When those are absent the society is doomed. Who can argue that when people no longer care to support their own society that its days are numberred?
     -- Ken, Long Island     
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    "Whores perform the same function as priests, but far more thoroughly." -- Robert Heinlein. Whatever his belief in God, his scorn for religion is unmistakable.
     -- Barbarra, Rochester     
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     -- Anonymous      
    Right on Barbarra ... Hielein's scorn for organized religion (and justg about any large governing institution) runs through all his writings. The complete chain of his expression of loyalty and duty is as follows: Self, Family, Friends, Neighbors, Fellow citizens (from smallest local through national) and species. Always he maintained this series even if he only recounted apart of it.
     -- Carloman, Alexandrai     
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    RAH was a solid atheist so all this blathering about your god is meaningless. Check out the sayings from the notebooks of lazerus long. In fact he hated religion.
     -- darrin, windsor     
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    Robert Heinlein was, all too often, spot on with his thoughts! He was a political and social writer with a sci-fi background as cover. We need thoughts and more people who think like he did.
     -- Terence Marion, Wyoming Michigan     
    Pastor Ray, faith is believing something without evidence to support it.
     -- jim k, Austin     
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    Religion is not the same as faith. Belief in a church or in a holy book is not the same as belief in godliness, or higher ideals. Duty is the sense of obligation that transcends self-interest. Loyalty is much the same. Heinlein was certainly an idealist, but just as certainly he would never allow others to try and nail him into their system of ideals, especially when so few of them made much effort to live by their own.

     -- Doc, Taiwan     
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