On Being What You Think

“The mind of man is not sufficiently capacious to attend to every thing at once, and while it suffers itself to be eaten up by narrow prejudices or fretted by personal politics, it will have neither relish nor appetite for public virtues.”

The decision thus becomes what it is we allow our minds to dwell upon.

Something to remember when considering the true nature of a divisive public discourse that panders to fear and the selfish politics of personal bigotry and prejudice.

We must guard against such a thing from happening, and when it does, have the insight to realize it and the will to do something about it.

On Losing Sight of the Real Issue

“It often happens that the weight of an argument is lost by the wit of setting it off; or the judgment disordered by an intemperate irritation of the passions.”

Too often the messenger obscures the message; even if unintended. In an attempt to be clever or to disparage those on an opposing side of an argument, the point vanishes in a vitriolic sea of animosity aimed more at the messenger than the message.

A recent case in point occurred last Saturday at the White House Correspondents Dinner, but examples of it abound in our current public discourse: I think you’re a slimebag and anything that issues forth from your mouth is thus slime.

And whatever the point was in the beginning is lost.


On Fear and Truth

“…the slavery of fear had made men afraid to think.
But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants is the liberty of appearing.”

When we stop thinking for ourselves, whether through fear or laziness, truth is often the first casualty.

But as Thomas Paine states in Rights of Man, the truth will pay no heed to such frailties and only awaits its discovery; patient and wanting nothing more.


On Paying the Taxman

“When we think or talk about taxes, we ought to recollect that we lie down in peace and sleep in safety; that we can follow our farms or stores or other occupations, in prosperous tranquillity; and that these inestimable blessings are procured to us by the taxes that we pay. In this view, our taxes are properly our insurance money; they are what we pay to be made safe, and, in strict policy, are the best money we can lay out”

Granting that many may have issue with Thomas Paine’s take on taxes; and that many may have disagreements with how our government spends the money it collects, or the way it goes about collecting it, I offer Paine’s words nonetheless in hopes it may soften the blow from earlier this week of paying the taxman.


On Willful Ignorance

“Where knowledge is a duty, ignorance is a crime.”

A responsible citizen in a modern society – especially one that influences so much of the rest of the world through its culture, foreign policy, military might, and demands on global resources – has a duty to be cognizant, to some degree, of the repercussions of his or her participation in that society.

It is not enough to know who was booted off the island last night, or the latest vote on American Idol, or have the latest scoop on some vapid pop star’s admission into rehap.

It is often said that we get the leaders we deserve. Therefore, it is our duty to know the issues of the day. It is our duty to be aware of the policies our leaders pursue in our name. It is our duty to seek knowledge of the world, our place in it, and the consequences thereof. We are not owed the freedoms and abundance of our society if we do nothing to help preserve it.

Ignorance is not bliss.


On Trying Too Hard to Tell the Truth

“There is a general and striking difference between the genuine effects of truth itself, and the effects of falsehood believed to be truth. Truth is naturally benign; but falsehood believed to be truth is always furious. The former delights in serenity, is mild and persuasive, and seeks not the auxiliary aid of invention. The latter sticks at nothing.”

The truth doesn’t dodge and weave; it doesn’t accuse, it neither demands or shuns attention. It is just there, perfectly comfortable with itself.

Falsehood is always on the run, often hides behind a forced claim at being the truth. But it never is, no matter how strident the insistence to the contrary.

Too much time spent explaining the truth probably means that you’re lying.