History

Common Sense

This essay is just a refresher for those who haven’t read history for some time, as an introduction to my views on cause and effect.

Father Saducci, a character portrayed by a comedian Don Novella wrote a news letter for the Vatican. He was attired in a Priest’s garb and wore a wide brimmed hat with a round top. He used satire to make his points on subjects like religion and education. One of his quips about religion was that God met you before your entrance to heaven and read all your earthly sins as one has to pay for his sins. He quotes the price of each of your sins; if you didn’t have the money to pay for them you had to go back and be born again.

His 5 minute University is the one I would like to dwell on. He tested 500 college graduates to see what they remembered after being out of college for 5 years. He then used what they remembered to form his curriculum. Of course this is huge exaggeration, but as most comedians he makes some valid points. One can learn a lot from comedians. He even had a one minute class on Spring Break.

In this vain I have learned little in formal education since the 6th grade that has been of much value in life. Most useful knowledge came from my father, experience, reading and listening to other people. These people don’t require much or any formal education, but have had different experiences than you.

A few quips that have been useful from my formal education and influenced my thinking have been cause and effect, supply and demand and for every action there’s a consequence.

Thomas Paine used this thinking to convince unwilling lower class colonists to fight for independence from England. The lower class had no desire to do the fighting for the elite, so there was a draft. Many rich men paid poor people to replace them in the military.

Thomas Paine was the Michael Moore of the 1700’s. His pamphlet “Common Sense” had more to do with the war for independence than our Founding Fathers.” The will to fight for independence from England was not supported by the majority of the colonists. A new book on the Revolution period states that 60,000 loyalists took their 15,000 slaves and left the country.

Paine was regarded as a radical, making statements like “society in every state is a blessing, but Government a necessary evil.” John Adams and other of his class feared him. His pamphlet “Common Sense” was written so almost all literate people could read it.

It was first published anonymously on January 10, 1776, during the American Revolution. Common Sense, signed “Written by an Englishman”, became an immediate success. In relation to the population of the Colonies at that time, it had the largest sale and circulation of any book in American history. Common Sense presented the American colonists with an argument for freedom from British rule at a time when the question of independence was still undecided. Paine wrote and reasoned in a style that common people understood. Paine structured Common Sense like a sermon and relied n Biblical references to make his case to the people. Historian Gordon Wood described Common Sense as the most incendiary and popular pamphlet of the entire revolutionary era

Paine used cause and effect to motivate the lower class colonists to take part in the revolution which is my reason for using him as an example of how to make decisions. He described the advantages of sticking to England and then bad effects of connection with England.

We seem to make our decisions with more of a gut feeling, without studying the results or disadvantages or coming to a conclusion without any adjudication of advantages or consequences of a decision. How many times have we sent troops to train other countries to defend themselves and ended up in a costly war? When was the last time we heard about a no-fly zone? What were the consequences of these actions?

The latest example is becoming involved in another civil war, this time in Libya. We are now going to arm the rebels and already have the CIA on the ground there. We evidently learned nothing from our involvement in Vietnam, Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan. War hawks like Mc Cain and Lieberman, to name a couple, seem oblivious to the audacious outcomes of past military endeavors.

We must ask ourselves; would we taken these actions if we had been aware of the loss of lives and financial costs. Our first week cost at least a billion dollars. Each of the over 110,000 missiles cost $570,000 each while politicians cry that we are broke.

My next blog will use common sense to explore the consequences we neglect to take into consideration in our domestic policy.

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3 responses to “History

  1. Vicki Sue McKinnis

    Thanks for that refresher course. In school we probably had to memorize that Thomas Paine wrote Common Sense, but didn’t learn anything more about it. We do have to wonder about the common sense of entangling ourselves in all these foreign wars. I look forward to your next article!

  2. Luanne Clague

    It seems like the public has very little recourse other then voting and those we vote for end up not
    adhering to the code of ethics they proclaim. I believe many see the folly of the current military actions and we have a good idea of it’s effects: destruction, death, and financial crisis and not accomplishing anything of value.

  3. “few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions”-Albert Einstien;. I am intrigued by your column today and must do some more research on Thomas Paine as I have never read his pamphlet.
    I liked your comment about some of the most important things we learn are from other people and not in a formal educational setting. Vicki Sue has taught me much about people skills and seeing what is behind behavior. I look forward to your future thoughts on cause and effect and how you perceive the political progress of the nation.

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