In a previous blog, Thomas Paine 1776, I selected the very famous quotes as: “These are the times that try men’s souls…,” and one from Common Sense. Here, Paine explains much about the slavishness of the Trumpsters and those who do not oppose them when their nation is in danger, and brings more encouragement to the struggle. But first a bit of Socrates on the point he has in common with Lao Tzu and Jesus about revenge:
Socrates: From Plato’s Crito (49c-d):
Socrates: Then no human being should do injustice in return or do evil, whatever he suffers from others…this seems and will seem so only to a certain few. So there is no common counsel for those who hold this opinion and those who do not; it is necessary that they will have contempt for each other when they see each other’s counsels.
Translated by Thomas G. West (my teacher!)
Tom Paine: The American Crisis:
I once felt all that kind of anger which a man ought to feel against the mean principles that are held by the Tories: a noted one, who kept a tavern at Amboy, was standing at his door with as pretty a child in his hand, about eight or nine years old, as I ever saw, and after speaking his mind as freely as he thought was prudent, finished with this unfatherly expression, “well! give me peace in my day.”** Not a man lives on the continent but fully believes that a separation must some time or other finally take place, and a generous parent should have said, “if there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace,” and this single reflection, well applied, is sufficient to awaken every man to his duty.
…The heart that feels not now is dead; the blood of his children will curse his cowardice who shrinks back at a time when a little might have saved the whole and made them happy. 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.
…I should suffer the misery of devils were I to make a whore of my soul by swearing allegiance to one whose character is that of a sottish, stupid, stubborn, worthless, brutish man. I conceive likewise a horrid idea in receiving mercy from a being who, at the last day, shall be shrieking to the rocks and mountains to cover him and fleeing with terror from the orphan, the widow, and the slain of America.
There are persons, too, who see not the full extent of the evil which threatens them; they solace themselves with hopes that the enemy, if he succeed, will be merciful. It is the madness of folly to expect mercy from those who refuse to do justice; and even mercy, where conquest is the object, is only a trick of war;* the cunning of the fox is as murderous as the violence of the wolf, and we ought to guard equally against both.
I dwell not upon the vapors of imagination; I bring reason to your ears and, in language as plain as A, B, C, hold up the truth to your eyes.
By perseverance and fortitude we have the prospect of a glorious issue; by cowardice and submission, the sad choice of a variety of evils- a ravaged country, a depopulated city, habitations without safety and slavery without hope, our homes turned into barracks and bawdyhouses for the Hessians, and a future race to provide for whose fathers we shall doubt of. Look on this picture and weep over it! and if there yet remains one thoughtless wretch who believes it not, let him suffer it unlamented.
*Note: reverse this in the proper way, and see the ground of our argument against torture. If “War is over” when ISIS fighters surrender to us, the 1/2 that do not want to be there may leave, and may help us voluntarily. But torture, and many more Americans captured will be tortured by them, us having failed to show that torture is wrong.
** “Peace in our time” is, shockingly, what Lord Chamberlain said after placating the Nazi invasion of Sudetanland Czech German speaking Austria- as in “Sound of Music.” Then They did not help Poland (if my History is right). But Winston Churchill was right, and when this was demonstrated by further Nazi advances, Churchill was elected Prime Minister.