John F Waterman
The works of John F Waterman

09.29.17 September 28, 2017

“These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.”- Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, 1776
From 7th through 11th grade I attended a private prep school. Back in the 80’s the school’s doctrine was considered pretty liberal; not quite far ‘left’ but definitely leaning that way. These days I suppose its core values would be considered moderately ‘left’ if such a term even applies anymore among the heavy (and essentially worthless) ‘left’-‘right’ polarization we see now. In any case, I had a lot of instruction in American history and–admittedly ‘liberal’–political philosophy. I remember that the ‘distrust the Establishment’ vibe I got from my instructors juxtaposed with the notion that ‘government and not churches or private organizations is the only means to improve society’ confused the Hell out of me then, and still does. Full disclosure; I did not graduate from this institution.
Nonetheless, I feel I have received a decent education in the matter of government in its peculiarly American incarnation. Not all my instructors were ‘howling liberals’, and most of those assigned to teach government and political philosophy took their tasks seriously and strove to be even-handed in their presentation of it. I fell a little to the ‘right’ in general compared to the political tone of the school’s political philosophy. Part of that came from pure adolescent rebellion and part because even back then I always liked to weigh each issue out on its own merits a la carte rather than subscribing to a whole political platform. Blame it on me being forced to engage in a lot of formal debates . . .
Thomas Paine, however you may feel about his political thinking or his personal convictions not only knew how to turn a fine phrase but also had an uncanny ability to strike to the very essence of an issue. I’m the last person who would claim to have Paine’s ability to inveigh eloquently or cut incisively to the heart of the matter that confronts us now, 241 years later, but given what faces this nation today we need someone who CAN.
We live now not under the tyranny of a distant king, but instead one of specious rhetoric spewed out by the mouthpieces of a plutocratic oligarchy, demagogues who owe no affiliation to any political Party or anything but their paymasters. One-sixth of our population lives practically disenfranchised, their civil rights paid merely lip service as they languish in a situation they have little economic or political power to affect or leave. Most of the rest groan under the oppression of service to impossible debts both public and private in a Hobbesian dystopia created by a hyper-capitalistic economy while a minuscule fraction enjoy a hedonistic utopia free from debt or service to same . . .or any other responsibility. The very government that the Constitution and Bill Of Rights have established to be our servant instead serves as the tool used to keep class and ‘race’ engaged upon one another in mutual hatred. In the words of Yeats, “. . .the center cannot hold-”
We desperately NEED a Thomas Paine. We need someone who can clarify, expound, explain and define the true problems facing us so that we all, working together on the true issues vexing us, can find a consensus that while not perfect will serve us ALL moving forwards.
Keep striving, my friends.

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