Thomas Paine in Today’s World

The “Among ridiculous things nothing is more ridiculous than ridiculous rage.”
-Thomas Paine

There are those that don’t know which battles to choose in life, those that do, and those that charge into an invented battle with indignation and rage, obscuring, to the casual observer, the twisted deficiency of the invention. For whatever reason it is done, it is ridiculous to its core.

While certainly not the only one, Rush Limbaugh comes to mind.

If Mr. Limbaugh’s brain is “on loan from God”, then God should foreclose.

“To draw foolish portraits of each other, is a mode of attack and reprisal, which the greater part of mankind are fond of indulging.”
-Thomas Paine

Every election cycle, early on, civility is promised.

Then, as events heat up in the mad race to election day, civility turns to accusation and acrimony. Cries of “foul!” ensue, along with a general lament from the press, that nonetheless eats it all up and serves it to a waiting electorate.

And in the end, as ever before, we get the leaders we deserve.

“When it becomes necessary to do a thing, the whole heart and soul should go into the measure, or not attempt it”
-Thomas Paine, Rights of Man

If it is something truly worthwhile, then it requires the best effort you can give it, or you are unworthy of the cause.

“It is more generous to be wrong on the side of confidence than on the side of suspicion.”
-Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

To be forthright in your belief, and be wrong, is better than to error in unwarranted suspicion.

“Wealth is no proof of moral character; nor poverty of the want of it — On the contrary, wealth is often the presumptive evidence of dishonesty; and poverty the negative evidence of innocence.”
-Thomas Paine, Principles of Government

The accumulation of wealth often carries with it a moral burden; one most easily avoided by the simple innocence of it.

 

 

“There are many things which in themselves are neither morally good nor bad, but they are productive of consequences, which are strongly marked with one or other of these characters.”
-Thomas Paine

“Who would know?”, “What’s the harm?”, “Nobody gets hurt…”

But what if you’re wrong?

“A life chequered with uncommon varieties is seldom a long one. Action and care will in time wear down the strongest frame, but guilt and melancholy are poisons of quick despatch.”
-Thomas Paine

Guilt and remorse are a diseases that afflict the human spirit. A life lived at odds with our fundamental nature is seldom long or happy. 

“When the tongue or the pen is let loose in a frenzy of passion, it is the man and not the subject that becomes exhausted”
-Thomas Paine, Rights of Man

In many cases one thing the blogosphere lacks, other than not always having its facts straight, is civility.

The only thing new is the method of delivery.

American journalism went through its birth pangs along with the nation. We take for granted today the idea of “party politics” in our democracy, even as we either engage in or decry acrimony of the other party.

If Thomas Paine was the first American Blogger, then those that followed with their own sheets, newspapers, and pamphlets became, in the early years of American Democracy, the first blogoshere.

And it is still revolutionary.   

“It is folly to argue against determined hardness; eloquence may strike the ear, and the language of sorrow draw forth the tear of compassion, but nothing can reach the heart that is steeled with prejudice.”

A mind stuck in fear, prejudice, and hatred can only become unstuck of it’s own will. It is impenetrable.

It is better to look elsewhere to exchange ideas and find human compassion.

“The mind, in discovering truth, acts in the same manner as it acts through the eye in discovering objects; when once any object has been seen, it is impossible to put the mind back to the same condition it was in before it saw it.”
-Thomas Paine, Rights of Man

Once we venture out onto the precipice of truth, there is no going back, for it is the journey that encompasses a lifetime.