I've read a lot of fiction, yes, but I haven't branched out that much. Most of it was by a few select authors that I was already comfortable with -- such as Kathryn Lasky, Brandon Sanderson, or Shannon Hale. But I decided to take a leap and try something by an author that I had never even heard of before, in a genre I wasn't the most comfortable with.
Robert A. Heinlein
Original Publication Date:
Wow. Just wow.
It's an incredible, masterful, thought-provoking work of fiction that I'll definitely be reading again!
Laurence Smith is an actor down on his luck, wasting his life in a bar when a stranger enters, buys him a drink, and offers him a job. Slightly sus, to use some Gen Z slang
. Laurence Smith looks into the offer and ends up accepting it, but he has no clue what he's getting into.
It turns out that Bonforte, the giant, the statesman, the linchpin of a movement for respectful inter-planetary relationships, has been kidnapped, and Laurence Smith must impersonate him.
And that's just the beginning.
I won't tell the rest, but it's a fantastic book and I highly recommend you go check it out!
There are a lot of great books out there. A lot. More than I will ever be able to read in my lifetime! However, truly exceptional
literature is a lot more rare. Today I am going to review a truly exceptional piece of literature, The Price of Freedom
, which is a collection of speeches by Calvin Coolidge. I'm pretty sure it was compiled by Calvin Coolidge too. Yup, that's right -- Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States of America. And, in my opinion, one of the best presidents this nation has ever had.
Now, about the book.
Title: The Price of Freedom: Speeches and Addresses
Original Publication Date:
I've read a lot of books, and I have a lot of favorite books, but this is definitely in my top five! (I'll do a post about my top five fiction and nonfiction in the future.) In fact, when I first read this book, I was like, "It could be canonized as TJEd scripture!" (TJEd
, as in Thomas Jefferson Education, a method of leadership education that is fantastic!) Seriously, it's that good
Here are some of my favorite quotes from The Price of Freedom
and the speeches they can be found in:
"Of course there is a need of a better understanding of the American form of government. Self-government is still government. There is no such thing as liberty without restraint. My rights are always represented by the duties of others. My freedom is always represented by the obedience of others. Their rights and their freedom are represented by my duties and my obedience."
"There are evil forces at work now. They are apparently organized and seek the disintegration of society. They can always be recognized by a direct appeal to selfishness and nothing else... the answer to this lies in a knowledge of past human experience and a realization of what man is."
"Mankind has always had classics. They always will. That is only another way of saying they have always set up ideals and always will. Always the question has been, always the question will be, what are those ideals to be, what are to be the classics?"
"Independence is exceedingly exacting, self-control is arduous, self-government is difficult. Always there is the temptation that some element of these should be surrendered in exchange for security and ease."
"The fundamental principles on which American institutions rest ought to be clearly understood. Being so understood, the can never lack for defenders."
"We review the past not in order that we may return to it but that we may find in what direction, straight and clear, it points into the future."
“Many of the technical choices we’re about to make will be strikingly political. Who has access to what data? Where is the line between human choice and machine intelligence? Why is one computer architecture better than another? These decisions — and the people who make them — will determine power’s new aspects. Banal technical choices will reverberate through the our future with the same influence that the Bill of Rights, the Magna Carta, the Analects of Confucius, and the Koran retain long after they were first written down. The real contests ahead will concern networks — but this means, in fact, a deeper conflict over values. Networks are like churches or schools or congresses; they reflect the aims and ethics of the people who build them. The price of meshing so many passionately held aims and sensibilities, hopes and hatreds, will be high.” — The Seventh Sense, pages 51-52.
“Your assignment is to write an essay on the ethics of editing human DNA,” my biology teacher said.
As some of you know, I started going to a charter school, Leadership Academy of Utah (which sounds a lot better than it actually is) when I entered highschool. I dutifully took the classes I was supposed to take, did the assignments I was supposed to be, and said what I was supposed to say. The first year was fantastic. The second year was frustrating. The third year was bad enough that I dropped out and dedicated myself wholly and completely to TJEd.
I took biology in my second year, during Tenth grade. The teacher was spectacular, the class itself was fine. But mostly, it just felt completely irrelevant. Especially once we started talking about editing human DNA and creepy stuff like that. So when I was assigned to write an essay on the ethics of editing human DNA, I balked. That’s just for scientists, I thought, and I’m definitely never going to be a scientist.
So I raised my hand and asked that eternal question: “Why? When am I ever going to use this in real life?”
Now, my teacher knew me pretty well. ‘Teacher’ doesn’t really even describe him; he is a mentor first, and a teacher second. So he just looked at me with wide, horrified eyes for a second, then said, “You want to be a politician, right?”
“Yeah,” I said. “So what?”
What he said next completely changed my perspective: “The future and limits of science are not created by the scientists, but by the government. Scientists push the limits of reality, but the government decides what science is ethical.”
Hmm… well, when it’s put that way… let’s just say that essay was written with gusto.
This doesn’t just apply to the ethics of editing human DNA. It also extends to the ethics of technology and networks. To paraphrase The Seventh Sense, congresses reflect the aims and ethics of the people who build them. So while the people have a ton of sway in the debate, in one sense, the verdict is up to the legislature.
So of course, it’s going to be a deeply political argument. Everything that happens in the government is deeply political at this point. Censorship? Political. The Bill of Rights? Political. The Constitution? Political. Education? Political. Technology? Political.
Though they may seem inconsequential or trivial now, these decisions – decisions that will be made in a fourth turning – will change the course of history. They will play a major role in the cycles of history; their answers will help determine whether we have a forceshift or a freedomshift.
However, “The price of meshing so many passionately held aims and sensibilities, hopes and hatreds, will be high.”
There is danger to letting the government make the decision. If they choose wrong – a forceshift, and a precedent for even more government control. If they choose right – a freedomshift, possibly; but along with it, the creation of a precedence that says yes, the government is allowed to legislate about these sorts of things.
It kinda feels like there is no right answer, only dozens of wrong ones.
But, well, that’s the intricacies of freedom.
And that’s the power of statesmen.