With special thanks to Constituting America and Heritage College, we will be taking part in their project:The U.S. Constitution: A Reader. It is a 90 day challenge to learn and dive deeper into understanding the Constitution.
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Thomas Paine and Common Sense
We all know and love Thomas Paine, and revere him as one of the Fathers of the beginnings of America. One of his works, Common Sense, he argued for a simple government. And, in Common Sense he used a language much easier for the people to understand. It wasn’t peppered with rhetoric like the other writers from the time.
Common Sense, in Paine’s eyes, was just that; a common sense layout of ideas on the foundations of government. Within the opening lines, Paine shares careful thought as to the origin of government in relation to society.
“Society is produced by our wants an government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices.”
In this sense, it is easy to see that government is a necessary evil. Further in, he offers that this is the “design and end of government; of freedom and security.” And, that simplicity is key – a basic form of nature.
“That the more simple any thing is, the less liable it is to be disordered; and the easier repaired when disordered.”
His order to simplicity is something that is far from today’s level of government. It was something of great concern for Paine at the time.
“The elected might never form to themselves an interest separate from the electors, prudence will point out the propriety of having elections often: because as the elected might by that means return and mix again with the general body of the electors in a few months, their fidelity to the public will be secured by the prudent reflection of not making a rod for themselves.”
Paine’s enlightenment to a simple, self-governing nation, found its way into the Constitution. Forms of restraint, and direction FROM the people were simple ideas at the time.
When you compare this to today, it is easy to see that we as a nation have come far removed from these simple ideas. Sometimes, there is need to take a step back and stop in order to move forward.
(This is just a snippet of a look into Paine’s Common Sense. Please read it for yourself.)
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