On Redefining 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. 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

The justification to use what has heretofore been known as torture, in the name of the very same principles that prohibit such action as immoral, illegal, and inhumane, is to justify the nullification of those very same principles.

It cannot be explained away as a necessary evil. It is merely evil creeping into soul of a nation.

On Cheap Energy

“What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly”
-Thomas Paine

True for any aspect of our lives, but particularly significant today with the rising cost of energy, in terms of dollars as well as the social and environmental consequences of our energy culture.

For decades we in the developed world have enjoyed an abundance that has been all too easy to take for granted; energy flowed into our homes, cars, and offices as if it would never run out.

Do we value our natural resources less and less as we use up more and more?  At some point, will there by a much larger price to pay than we ever bargained for? 

On the Nature of Ignorance

“Ignorance is of a peculiar nature; once dispelled, it is impossible to re-establish it. It is not originally a thing of itself, but is only the absence of knowledge; and though man may be kept ignorant, he cannot be made ignorant.”
-Thomas Paine, Rights of Man

To be ignorant is not bliss, to remain ignorant is not virtue. To be kept ignorant is cruel.

On the Wisdom of Dreams

Thomas Paine and the Wisdom of Dreams“I am apt to think that the wisest men dream the most inconsistently. For as the judgment has nothing or very little to do in regulating the circumstances of a dream, it necessarily follows that the more powerful and creative the imagination is, the wilder it runs in that state of unrestrained invention; while those who are unable to wander out of the track of common thinking when awake, never exceed the boundaries of common nature when asleep.”
-Thomas Paine

Some say that dreams or nothing more than the random firings of neurons of a brain in the depths of sleep; others map out exact interpretations of a dream as if it were a common thing.

Dreams are neither random or common; they are a storehouse of imagination, a story-teller that we hear only in the quiet of the night. The stories they tell open a whole world that may, if we are listening, bring our waking life into sharper focus.

On Whether God Is a Christian

Why may we not suppose that the great Father of all is pleased with a variety of devotion? And that the greatest offence we can act is that by which we seek to torment and render each other miserable? …I do not believe that any two men, on what are called doctrinal points, think alike, who think at all. It is only those who have not thought that appear to agree”
-Thomas Paine, Rights of Man

Did God. the great Father, create the vast universe, in all its splendor and diversity, only to have it reduced to the ravings of small men with closed minds, insisting their own limited vision and flawed belief is the only possible way that is pleasing to God?  Is it His desire that in so doing we torture, abuse, and make less than human those who think or believe differently than we?

Can this possibly be what God intended?

It comes in all forms: Fundamentalist Christian, radical Islam, intolerant Secularism.

Faith is a vital component of human happiness, but that is often confused with a belief that one has knowledge of the “one true religion”. It does not exist as long as people are willing to disabuse others in the name of it.

God requires that we be humble. Any religion, or non-religion, is just a flawed worldview trying to make sense of what it ultimately cannot.

God belongs to no religion, sect, or creed. Any such thing is a contrivance of Man. If He is concerned with our petty ranting and raving, it is only to the degree that we would disabuse others in His name.

We have no idea.

On Speaking Truth to (and of) Power: When Good People Follow Bad Leaders

“When I look into history and see the multitudes of men, otherwise virtuous, who have died, and their families been ruined, in the defense of knaves and fools, and which they would not have done, had they reasoned at all upon the system; I do not know a greater good that an individual can render to mankind, than to endeavor to break the chains of political superstition.”
-Thomas Paine

The path to ruin is sometimes paved with good intentions. Power wields unto itself often an authority it does not deserve, wisdom it does not process, and devotion of which it is not worthy.

Good men with right hearts must sometimes rise up and declare the emperor has no clothes.

 

On Redacting the Truth

“Mystery is the antagonist of truth. It is a fog of human invention, that obscures truth, and represents it in distortion. Truth never envelops itself in mystery, and the mystery in which it is at any time enveloped is the work of its antagonist, and never of itself.”
-Thomas Paine

The enemy of truth is often the one most loudly protesting in its behalf.

Truth will speak for itself.

 

On the Campaign Primaries

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

Capturing the imagine of a nation, inspiring its citizens to unite and rise above petty grievance and intolerance, is what we need. Instead we get the primaries.