On the Value of Hanging Out with the Right People

“Better fare hard with good men than feast it with bad”
-Thomas Paine

It is not the relative difficulty or ease, but the caliber of people with which we associate, that shapes the course of our lives.

On the Genius and Strength of Abraham Lincoln

“I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.”
-Thomas Paine, The American Crisis

Lincoln’s time in the White House was marked with personal tragedy and national turmoil as the country convulsed through a horrific and bloody civil war. The genius and power of Lincoln was his ability to maintain his good nature and gather strength in tragedy. His ability to guide a nation through its worst crisis with his own hard-won sense of humility, humor, and simple grace – even “unto death” – sets Abraham Lincoln apart. He is one of the few men that live beyond their own time and “belong to the ages.

On Having Sufficient Gratitude

“But if objects for gratitude and admiration are our desire, do they not present themselves every hour to our eyes?”
-Thomas Paine, Age of Reason

Hobbes said life was nasty, brutish, and short. There is no question that life is often hard, even nasty and brutish, certainly short. Even so, if you have time for an existential crisis, then then you have reason to be grateful.

On Released Memos Justifying 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 his duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.”
-Thomas Paine, Rights of Man

Lost in a sea of semantics, twisted interpretations of law, and descriptions of medieval-sounding methods of punishment revealed in recently released Bush-era memos justifying torture is, in truth, a betrayal of the very principles that founded a nation.

Let the terrorist deal in terror. America stands or falls on how it abides by a higher standard.

On Transparency in Government

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

It is the government with something to hide, or thinks itself justified in so doing, that we must fear most.

On the Servitude of Fear

“…the slavery of fear had made men afraid to think.” 
-Thomas Paine, Rights of Man

Fear is the enemy of reason. Fear invites suspicion, prejudice, division. 

Overcoming fear is the path to freedom.

On God’s Wrath

“Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man”
-Thomas Paine

We can have a loving God, or a cruel one. The true values of God are reflected in the actions of those whom profess belief.