Thomas Paine Quotes

“Give to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself – that is my doctrine.”
-Thomas Paine

If something is my right, then it ought to be another’s.

“Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.”
-Thomas Paine

If Glenn Beck says the government wants to tax your breathing under the guise of global warming legislation, that doesn’t mean it’s true. If Sarah Palin tells us that health care reform is an evil plot, it’s more a reflection of Sarah than it is health care reform.

Reason dismisses such foolishness for what it is, ignorance swallows it whole.

“Character is much easier kept than recovered.”
-Thomas Paine

The reputation Toyota had earned as a trusted global car-maker took decades to build, but mere weeks to lose. Their most valuable asset too easily squandered and perhaps never fully recovered. There’s a lesson in there for all of us.

“An avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty. It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws.”
-Thomas Paine

When former vice president Dick Cheney parades his support for torture in front of the world, he abdicates all moral authority along with the principals of freedom and liberty he professes to defend. It isn’t about those he would torture, justice is their due. It is about those that would forsake principal for security – in the process abandoning both.

Dick Cheney is a sad, little man.

“He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.”
-Thomas Paine

Vengeance is a self-fulfilling prophesy, feeding on its own cycle of hate and retribution. Victory over the insidious pull of a false sense of satisfaction from violence and oppression requires dogged determination, an adherence to the higher ideals conceived in the trial of our own oppression.

“A nation under a well regulated government, should permit none to remain uninstructed. It is monarchical and aristocratical government only that requires ignorance for its support.”
-Thomas Paine, Rights of Man

Believing that a company is too big to fail, while  the education of the coming generation falters, is an aristocracy of government-by-corporation that cannot last.

Suspicion is the companion of mean souls, and the bane of all good society.”
-Thomas Paine

The issue isn’t really what matters. What matters is to cast doubt on whatever position your opponent takes on the issue.

“A little matter will move a party, but it must be something great that moves a nation.”
-Thomas Paine, Rights of Man

Political polarization is not the path to true leadership. When politics refuses to go beyond party at all costs, it remains small, unable to lead. Greatness and leadership is usually found outside the boundaries and comfort of party.

“Better fare hard with good men than feast it with bad”
-Thomas Paine

It is not the relative difficulty or ease, but the caliber of people with which we associate, that shapes the course of our lives.

“I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.”
-Thomas Paine, The American Crisis

Lincoln’s time in the White House was marked with personal tragedy and national turmoil as the country convulsed through a horrific and bloody civil war. The genius and power of Lincoln was his ability to maintain his good nature and gather strength in tragedy. His ability to guide a nation through its worst crisis with his own hard-won sense of humility, humor, and simple grace – even “unto death” – sets Abraham Lincoln apart. He is one of the few men that live beyond their own time and “belong to the ages.