On Being Wise vs. Being Gratified

“Wisdom is not the purchase of a day”
-Thomas Paine, The American Crisis

A person stands a much better chance of  winning the lottery than of finding a quick and easy path that bestows wisdom upon the traveler.

Instant gratification, and the culture that promotes it, forsakes the harder, longer path toward the unpromised gift of wisdom for the easier, quicker path of indulgence – of body, mind, and spirit; too much of everything.

Gratification is not gratitude, and information is not wisdom.

On the Popularity of Fox News

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

If Glenn Beck says the government wants to tax your breathing under the guise of global warming legislation, that doesn’t mean it’s true. If Sarah Palin tells us that health care reform is an evil plot, it’s more a reflection of Sarah than it is health care reform.

Reason dismisses such foolishness for what it is, ignorance swallows it whole.

On Toyota, Recalls, and Reputation

“Character is much easier kept than recovered.”
-Thomas Paine

The reputation Toyota had earned as a trusted global car-maker took decades to build, but mere weeks to lose. Their most valuable asset too easily squandered and perhaps never fully recovered. There’s a lesson in there for all of us.

On Dick Cheney Boasting of His Support for Torture

“An avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty. It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws.”
-Thomas Paine

When former vice president Dick Cheney parades his support for torture in front of the world, he abdicates all moral authority along with the principals of freedom and liberty he professes to defend. It isn’t about those he would torture, justice is their due. It is about those that would forsake principal for security – in the process abandoning both.

Dick Cheney is a sad, little man.

On Justice for Terrorists

“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.”
-Thomas Paine

Vengeance is a self-fulfilling prophesy, feeding on its own cycle of hate and retribution. Victory over the insidious pull of a false sense of satisfaction from violence and oppression requires dogged determination, an adherence to the higher ideals conceived in the trial of our own oppression.

On the Better Use of a Billion Dollars: Corporate Bailouts or Scholarships

“A nation under a well regulated government, should permit none to remain uninstructed. It is monarchical and aristocratical government only that requires ignorance for its support.”
-Thomas Paine, Rights of Man

Believing that a company is too big to fail, while  the education of the coming generation falters, is an aristocracy of government-by-corporation that cannot last.

On Fox News and Peddling Suspicion

Suspicion is the companion of mean souls, and the bane of all good society.”
-Thomas Paine

The issue isn’t really what matters. What matters is to cast doubt on whatever position your opponent takes on the issue.

On Politics vs. Leadership

“A little matter will move a party, but it must be something great that moves a nation.”
-Thomas Paine, Rights of Man

Political polarization is not the path to true leadership. When politics refuses to go beyond party at all costs, it remains small, unable to lead. Greatness and leadership is usually found outside the boundaries and comfort of party.