Thomas Paine, the True Spirit of America, and the need to make Common Sense more common

Created October 16th, 2020

It is suspected that Tom Paine had a hand in the writing of the American Declaration of Independence.

But it is a fact that he had an important hand in the American Revolution. His pamphlet in 1776 is what set the match to the smoldering timber.

The revolution was about one single subject. Tyranny. Especially the tyranny of the British over their colony which painted itself as authentic concern about the colonists.

“Common sense will tell us, that the power which hath endeavored to subdue us, is of all others, the most improper to defend us.” –Thomas Paine

The name of his pamphlet was Common Sense. Only 500,000 copies were sold, but the 47-page treatise turned millions of British Colonists with a beef against the King, into people with a sense of being their own independent country, Americans.

He wrote the document as an Englishman, addressing The Inhabitants of America. His pamphlet is regarded as “one of the wellsprings of the thinking that founded the country. Common sense, that is, a plain practical ‘get on with the job’ philosophy is part of the American psyche.”

Today’s dictionaries define “Common Sense” as “sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts.” And: “sound practical judgment concerning everyday matters”, which specifies that common sense is limited to everyday matters.

“In the 1770s, the term Common Sense meant ‘primary truth’, that is, the unquestionable beliefs that all people receive from their experience of being alive, the faculty of self-evident truths.” If he did ghost write some lines for Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, perhaps to Paine “Common Sense” meant “We hold these truths to be self-evident.”

The power of communication can be so great when one sticks to common sense. Common sense has no need of rancor, blame, insults. It sticks to the obvious and easily-agreed facts and argues from that common ground to what must be an unarguable answer.

Yet Paine and all the founders knew of human imperfections, even the ability to lose all sense, not just horse sense, but to literally lose the faculty of seeing even the obvious.

Thomas Paine on reason and thinking:

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

“It is an affront to treat falsehood with complaisance.”

“It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry.”

“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.”

“To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture.”

“When men yield up the privilege of thinking, the last shadow of liberty quits the horizon.”

The founders were all men and women of the world, realists. They gave us a system that – with kindnesswould work to “give everyone an even break, and then some.” –Frank Sinatra

Thomas Paine:

“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.”

“Human nature is not of itself vicious.”

“Suspicion is the companion of mean souls, and the bane of all good society.”

“I believe in the equality of man; and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy.”

“If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.”

“We have it in our power to begin the world over again.”

A Song For Today – Liberty Tree, by Stan Satlin, from the poem of the same name by Thomas Paine

More Potent Quotes for today, about Tyranny

May the Center Hold.

Best to all,

Bill

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