Sunday, January 15, 2012

Yup, still the same.

I've been reading Thomas Paine's pamphlet "Common Sense" today. Thomas Paine btw, was one of America's founding fathers, a revolutionary who stirred up the populace and helped create a new nation. There's a passage in it that I think is still relevant today.
Though I would carefully avoid giving unnecessary offence, yet I am
inclined to believe, that all those who espouse the doctrine of
reconciliation, may be included within the following descriptions.
Interested men, who are not to be trusted; weak men, who CANNOT
see; prejudiced men, who WILL NOT see; and a certain set of
moderate men, who think better of the European world than it
deserves; and this last class, by an ill-judged deliberation, will be
the cause of more calamities to this continent, than all the other
three.

It is the good fortune of many to live distant from the scene of
sorrow; the evil is not sufficiently brought to THEIR doors to make
THEM feel the precariousness with which all American property is
possessed. But let our imaginations transport us for a few moments to
Boston, that seat of wretchedness will teach us wisdom, and instruct
us for ever to renounce a power in whom we can have no trust. The
inhabitants of that unfortunate city, who but a few months ago were
in ease and affluence, have now, no other alternative than to stay
and starve, or turn out to beg. Endangered by the fire of their
friends if they continue within the city, and plundered by the
soldiery if they leave it. In their present condition they are
prisoners without the hope of redemption, and in a general attack for
their relief, they would be exposed to the fury of both armies.
Little has changed, people now get buffeted by economic forces rather than men at arms, but the men at arms in days of yore were driven by men who wished to wield economic power. I haven't quite finished Common Sense pamphlets were a little longer back in the day, a mere 40 or 50 pages rather than 2 or 3. It's worth reading though, Paine was a good writer and a lot of parallels can be drawn between the struggles he was facing and those which the world is currently facing. I have decent chunk of respect of the American founders, they got some things completely wrong (slavery for one) but given the world they lived in I think they did reasonably well. They set out to make a better world and succeeded.
It was Thomas Jefferson I believe, another one of Americas founding fathers who said "the price of freedom is eternal vigilance"and I think he was right. It's just that sometime in the last 50 or 60 years, the Americans stopped being vigilant.

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