Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Common Sense by Thomas Paine

genre: politics

I'm a little bit of a fan of the musical Hamilton. In one song, the future sister-in-law of Alexander Hamilton sings, "I've been reading Common Sense by Thomas Paine, so men say that I'm intense or I'm insane." That particular line gets stuck in my head a lot and I finally thought - I should read the dang thing myself!!

Common Sense is a "pamphlet" that Thomas Paine wrote in an attempt to justify and defend the cause of independence from England. His thoughtful, logical arguments approach the problem from all angles, some I had never even considered. He's not gentle, that Thomas Paine. In his mind, if you don't see the benefits of an immediate severing of ties with England, then you are a idiot.

He begins at governments, their purpose and responsibilities. He deconstructs and destroys the entire idea of a king. He is very aware of the amazing chance they had, in that moment, to create a new world. He even says, "We have it in our power to begin the world over again."

This book actually fascinated me. It is so well laid out, so logical, it does make so much SENSE. I didn't read a page without highlighting something that really resonated with me as a person privileged with a life a freedom. He'd have convinced me to commit treason, I think. I feel like I have a much better sense now of all that was at stake in the TIMING of the thing. Part of his argument for immediate independence was the fact that their current generation of adults had just FOUGHT in a war, they knew HOW to fight - Paine's argument against those who wanted independence but "not right now" is that if they waited one generation, that institutional military knowledge would be lost. I had never thought of that before.

 I felt like singing the National Anthem when I was done reading. Or maybe some Hamilton ;)

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