“These are the times that try men’s souls,” wrote Thomas Paine in the opening line of the first of his pamphlet series The American Crisis. Paine wrote and published thirteen of these pamphlets between 1776 and 1777. The first one was published in The Pennsylvania Journal on December 19, 1776. Pamphlets were a common medium for spreading ideas at that time.
Prior to writing the series of pamphlets, Paine wrote Common Sense, which he published on January 9, 1776. Two hundred, forty-five years ago our infant country was still undecided about fighting for its independence. Paine was able, through his writing, to unite the average citizens and political leaders to agree that it would be best to fight for our independence.
The following words that he wrote in Common Sense played an important role in transforming a colonial quarrel into a revolution: “Europe, and not England, is the parent country of America. This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe. Hither they have fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still.”
According to history.com, Common Sense is considered one of the most influential pamphlets in American history. And most people know the importance of learning about history.
2020 was certainly a year of trying one’s souls, as it will probably go down in history as a difficult one for many people. There are those who feel we were very much like the colonists of Thomas Paine’s trying times – a terrible virus caused an order to wear masks, the closing of small businesses and restaurants, schools shut down and just when gardening season was about to begin, garden centers were ordered to close. And to end the year with a bang, when people were in the height of their Christmas shopping, wanting to “shop local,” our local non-essential businesses were closed again.
Many wondered where was the fairness of all of this? When the governor of a state tests positive for COVID-19, does that mean everyone all over the state has to shut down? And it was the local small businesses and restaurants that closed right before Christmas. Did that make sense when the “big box” stores remained open? Governor’s orders were to limit the number of people in those “big box” stores. That makes sense.
Unfortunately, right before Christmas, I went to one of those “big box” stores and saw no one checking how many had entered, or making sure everyone had on a mask upon entering. I know they weren’t checking because the person who entered ahead me was not wearing a mask. The store was so full of people with full carts and no one was monitoring social distancing in the aisles or check out lines. Of course, it was important that the “big box” stores be open for Christmas shopping. Never mind the small businesses. Was that fair? Did that make sense?
I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
Is it starting to feel like the thirteen colonies under British rule? Again, it depends on how you observe it.
But like Thomas Paine, I have to wonder about common sense here. If someone is not feeling well, do they go out to dinner? Probably not. So, is it as likely to find the virus in restaurants? Or at the “big box” stores where people go, even when they aren’t feeling well but need to run out to get something for their ailment?
Does it make sense when government approves money going overseas to help other countries, when so many people – United States citizens – right here in our country have been through so much financial trauma and need help? After all, if our own people are in need, shouldn’t we take care of them first? Where is our government when its own hardworking people have been hit hard by the virus and shut down so they can’t make money? I have to wonder where the common sense is in that.
This isn’t meant to be a scientific study, or a political debate – just common sense.
And another one of our patriotic founding fathers that had great scientific knowledge as well as common sense was Benjamin Franklin.
According to www.biography.com/scholar/benjamin-franklin, Franklin is often known as the “First American” as he played an important role in drafting the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution.
A popular story is that Franklin was asked, upon leaving the Constitutional Convention, what sort of government the delegates had created.
“A republic,” answered Franklin. “If you can keep it.”
And when someone came back with, “And why not keep it,” Benjamin Franklin responded, “Because the people, on tasting the dish, are always disposed to eat more of it than does them good.”
Just common sense?