Sunday, June 22, 2014

Thomas Paine

“Common Sense” pamphleteer, patriot, seminal abolitionist and skeptic Thomas Paine (1737 - 1809) had plenty to say about “offering up human sacrifices to the pride of tyrants” that resonates all the more today. “Those who want to reap the benefits of this great nation must bear the fatigue of supporting it... The strength and power of despotism consists wholly in the fear of resistance... I love the man [who] can smile in trouble, [who] can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.” America finds itself in same straits as when merciless monarchs ruled, only now it’s oligarchs manipulating media to avoid responsibility to those who made them wealthy.

Pamphlets were the founding father’s Facebook. Despite misuse, current media does reduce consumption by relaying information instead of wasting fuel. Then again, once enlightened, you might want to visit places you never did. Corporations expect employees to adapt, commute and relocate. Messages increase ecotourism and political action as much as inspire “staycations”. Have lately grown weary with local scenery, instead focus on cracks ahead hoping to finish faster and get ride over. Wanderlust only serves those with trust funds. Highways are so messed up motorists would be willing to pay more to correct, when everyone already pays too much in taxes for something totally unsustainable. A trillion dollars nationwide in the last decade doesn't seem to deter those dodging potholes.

Nothing is straightforward. You’re forced to spend all your time sorting through agendas, arguments, lies, opinions and spin. Otherwise, they’ll betray your confidence, deny earned entitlements, pick your pocket, sell you unwanted stuff, and steal public properties and revenues. They’ll allege you have trust issues while giving you reasons not to. Dullards who hate to do for themselves enjoy Top 10 lists, which are as phony as anything else compiled by those in control. The best is usually lame, runners-up an absolute bore. Popularity, extremely overrated, means nothing more than an ill-informed audience agrees. Consensus validates nothing, which is why democracy struggles, though people must agree before action can occur. “All mankind are my brethren. To do good is my religion,” said Paine just before inciting revolution.

What matters is what you think for yourself. You bring originality and perception personally, so it doesn’t much matter whether or whither you wander. But, as Bleeping Pain confirms, you can’t just stay put, need to encounter rude others. Humans must interact to thrive. Destinations don’t matter, either, because bulk of experiences occur en route. So throw a dart at at map then wend your way there. Labann crosses unfriendly city to area farms to buy vegetables, even if costlier for being fresher than supermarket, neither of which are close, makes multiple stops, and talks to many. Therefore, hopefully, farms with wild habitats and wistful vistas like a Wyeth landscape endure. In contrast, because they coerce you to drive, supermarkets in suburban exile present drab architecture surrounded by baked blacktop. Efforts to insulate make one isolated and vulnerable.

Remember being miserable pedaling along soaked in predicted 10% precipitation. Wary of forecasts, wonder why so seldom see overhangs at intervals that could shelter those who need to be out. At least Italy has its arcades, some New England strip malls awnings, and Texas covered boardwalks. They'd attract riders by covering bus stops and posting schedules. But is inconsiderate infrastructure worthy of complaint? Tyrants abuse or use others daily, expect royal treatment, make slaves out of those who have skills, and subjugate wills. All work is dangerous and tiresome, leads to broken bones and scars, while recipients grab proceeds and shrug off your trauma. Many factory workers, for example, have lost fingers. Farmers risk their lives to grow produce and raise stock, but many sell land for lack of profits. If you’ve never made hay, milked cows or picked vegetables, you have no idea what back breaking effort it takes to feed you. Be grateful; you don’t deserve it.

Inhumanity manifests in many ways, none quite as blatant as yesterday being buzzed within inches by a big black SUV with opaque windows. Registration plates betray driver anonymity, so can report this crime if so inclined but doubt state would indict. Cause rests in what Paine impugned before traffic code was ever imagined, a “long and violent abuse of power”, which perfectly portrays entire automotive history. And to think this remarkable prophet died unappreciated and unmourned except by a pair of black freedmen and presumably a few farmers for whom he tirelessly fought. Lest Americans forget, there would be no Independence Day without Paine, who galvanized opinion by embracing the oppressed while snubbing the powerful.

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