On Keeping an Open Mind

“I have always strenuously supported the right of every man to his opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.”

Perhaps it is not unusual for every generation to, in one way or another, have a crisis of conscious, of opposing idealogies, that is polarizing and divisive, the one side sure that the other is inspired by the devil.

It is the truly virtuous man that can set aside all prejudice and suspicion when considering another’s belief in direct opposition to his own. It is not easily done.

Paine lived to see the intrigue and vitriol rampant in the newly United States’ first administration. oversaw open political warfare and attempted character assassination between his Secretaries of Finance and State, Alexander and Thomas respectively. At odds were the ideas of Federalism (a strong central government) versus Republicanism (less centralized government, power to the states); exactly how it was thought best the new country should be run. But it went further than that. Between Hamilton and Jefferson, it got personal and ugly.

It was as if they believed in two different Gods.

And it didn’t get resolved. It is a debate that exists even now, and shows little sign of abating.

Religion and politics are not discussed in polite company, lest it get personal and ugly. For it follows that if one does, one will eventually come upon another that believes just the opposite, and never the twain shall meet.

It seems as if humanity is both inspired and cursed by religion and politics, it brings together a few against the many, invites dogma, fear, and violence; and is apparently essential, in some fundamental way, for human civilization to exist.

Perhaps within religion and politics lie the essential elements of humanity that haltingly propels civilization; ever stumbling forward.

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