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 Dodging Bullets in Bosnia

It is easy to tell a lie, but it is difficult to support the lie after it is told.
-Thomas Paine

How easy it is to be swept up in the moment and find yourself stepping over the line between fact and fiction. How hard it is to explain it after the moment has passed and hindsight casts its critical eye.

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 Voting for Change

“When moral principles, rather than persons, are candidates for power, to vote is to perform a moral duty, and not to vote is to neglect a duty.”
-Thomas Paine

When it is necessary for a nation to change its course, as it surely is now, it is not only a right but also our duty to vote for the principals of moral change that we seek. We must then vote for the personality that best embodies those moral principals.

A cult of principal, not of personality.

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.



On Choosing Your Battles

“It is folly to argue against determined hardness; eloquence may strike the ear, and the language of sorrow draw forth the tear of compassion, but nothing can reach the heart that is steeled with prejudice.”
-Thomas Paine

Prejudiced thinking drives away the burden of logic, making rational argument both unnecessary and a waste of time. 

It is best, then, to choose your battles wisely.  

On Loving Your Enemy, Forgiveness, and Common Sense

“Loving of enemies is another dogma of feigned morality, and has besides no meaning. It is incumbent on man, as a moralist, that he does not revenge an injury; and it is equally as good in a political sense, for there is no end to retaliation, each retaliates on the other, and calls it justice; but to love in proportion to the injury, if it could be done, would be to offer a premium for crime.”
-Thomas Paine

Should the consequence of committing injury upon another be to retaliate in kind? We see all around us the results of that: Non-ending hatreds and escalating violence.

If acts have consequences, if we reap what we sow, can it truly be possible to love an enemy as you would your own? But if by love we mean forgiveness, then let it be so.

For to forgive relieves us of the burden of hatred that gnaws away at our own soul and does little harm to an enemy other than to justify the non-sensible continuation of aggression.

Forgiveness is an expression of a loving heart and is a gift to the world and to ourselves.