These Are the Times …
He wrote a total of sixteen pamphlets from 1776 to 1783 with thirteen being published from 1776 to 1777 in the “Pennsylvania Journal”. Thomas Paine might very well have been the first American blogger and, like many who write blogs, this writer included, he used a pseudonym – Common Sense.
The rhetoric Paine used to help the common man understand why the American Revolution was necessary was much like the wording of many of the answers given in recent political debates. Paine did not employ military strategy nor governmental functions. He stated that the Lord would support a revolution for change and freedom. He appealed to people’s emotions and even their fears.
Change is not an element in most people’s comfort zones and to think about a widespread group of farmers and displaced noblemen waging war against an established world power like Great Britain was unthinkable for most. Thomas Paine knew this and used his pamphlets to underscore the need for such action.
Yesterday in the USA many held lawful assemblies to protest what they themselves created. While many fail to completely understand the proess of the Electoral College in the voting for a President of the United States, none can claim to not understand the importance of each and every vote.
In one pamphlet, Thomas Paine wrote: “’Tis surprising to see how rapidly a panic will sometimes run through a country. All nations and ages have been subject to them.” The truth is that such protests as were held yesterday are as much a part of the US Constitution as the right to vote. The right to lawful assembly to express displeasure, anger, and even panic is a guaranteed freedom.
Many countries do not afford the population such a right and they discount that it is an important aspect of the right to free speech. Paine and the founding father did not see it as unbridled panic but as the God-given right and result of man’s ability to think and exercise free will.
In Paine’s opinion, “Yet panics, in some cases, have their uses; they produce as much good as hurt. Their duration is always short; the mind soon grows through them, and acquires a firmer habit than before. But their peculiar advantage is, that they are the touchstones of sincerity and hypocrisy, and bring things and men to light, which might otherwise have lain forever undiscovered. In fact, they have the same effect on secret traitors, which an imaginary apparition would have upon a private murderer. They sift out the hidden thoughts of man, and hold them up in public to the world.”
So if you are concerned about such protests, do not be. If you are reading this in a land far away from the continental US, rest assured that life is going on as normal with all that implies, both good and not so good. These are indeed the times that try the souls of the living but then … so is every day. Famine, catastrophic illness, abject poverty, involuntary servitude…These are all things which still exist and require our most pressing attention. These are the times to make a difference and work for the betterment of all.