“Every religion is good that teaches man to be good; and I know of none that instructs him to be bad.” Thomas Paine
So there I was, a sophomore in high school, with a burning desire to learn, and a thirst to write……er, ah WRONG!!! Look up the word sophomoric in the dictionary, and my picture is next to it. I hated to write, and couldn’t wait to escape school. Now? I do my best to write my own blogging website and love to read about anything. It’s amazing what a few rounds of electro-shock therapy and four or five software up-grades can do for a “ late bloomer.”
Anyway, on the very first day of my world history class, the teacher gave us a homework assignment; write an essay on a person you think had great influence on the world. As I may have mentioned before, this was days before he began to “assault us ad nausea” about the Italian Renaissance. Regardless, some guys wrote about Jesus, some about their parents, and a few ass-kissers whose older brothers had the same assignment years earlier and knew what was coming, wrote about Leonardo Di Vinci, or any other person that they thought would gain them favor. Although some of my classmates were quite the “cement heads,” nobody would dare to write about the predecessors to Tom Brady or Beyoncé; even cement has its limits.
I’m not sure why, but I picked Thomas Paine, probably because Zulu Delta wasn’t up and running yet…….ha,ha,ha ha! Paine had written the pamphlet Common Sense urging the British Colonist to reject the rule of King and fight for Independence; and as we know, that’s exactly what happened. Oddly enough, I often think of that publication as well as my essay and I don’t believe it was a bad choice.
One of the reason I think back on this, is when I’m laughing at modern-day people who are expounding on what the “Nation’s Forefathers” exact thoughts, and intentions were meant to be for us in the “here and now.” Make no mistake; Paine was a Forefather, but some of his life may surprise you, as only recently I began to learn more about him.
- Common Sense is one of the all time best-selling publications in American History. During the era of the American Revolution, it sold 500,000 copies.
- Paine was one of the first to call it “The United States of America.” When Paine was done hyping revolution in America, He went to France to incite revolution. One alleged tale tells the story that Napoleon kept a copy of Common Sense under his pillow.
- He was arrested in France as an Englishman. The French refused to recognize his “American Citizenship.” George Washington also refuse to vouch for him, which opened a riff until the day he died when supposedly, only 6 people showed up at his funeral.
- While jailed in France, he wrote “The Age Of Reason.” It was a harsh criticism of organized religion; especially the Christian Church which he saw as corrupt and power-hungry. Ah yea………that fact got completely over-looked and omitted by my teachers in my high school Catholic Education; shocking!
- While in jail, he was sentenced to execution, and only escaped by a guard mistakenly chalking his cell door while it was open. When they came for the prisoners to be killed, as identified by a chalk mark on their door, his cell door was then closed, and he was passed over.
John Adams once said; “Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain.”
I’m thinking that when the Forefathers eventually got together after the war to sip tea, say prayers, and back slap each other for their nation created, “Paine in the Thomas” wasn’t invited.