Common Sense begins in letter form. A message to the American people. It’s that letter that I want to talk about today because it’s profound in its own right. The meaning as important today as it ever was.
The text below is the opening introduction from Common Sense by Thomas Paine. If you’ve ever tried to read it you know that it was written in Old English, and it’s nearly impossible to understand. Because of that, the text shown is the translated version re-written in modern English. If you want to fully understand Common Sense by Thomas Paine the modern English version is by far the best way to read it. If you’re interested in the full text, it’s available in eBook, print or, if you prefer, audio book. You Can Get It HERE
To my fellow Americans:
“Not everyone will agree with the principles outlined in this book. That may be because things have been wrong for so long that people have come to accept it as normal. Some people might be reluctant to accept these principles since it defies the “normal.” Eventually, however, the truth always prevails.
Eventually every abuse of power is called into question. Sometimes it will cause people to question the whole system that provided the power in the first place. The King of England has united with Parliament to exercise complete control over everything. But the people of this continent who have suffered because of the abuse of this power have a right to question the claim of this power and the right to reject it altogether.
This book is about principles. Its purpose is not to attack or compliment any person or people. Wise and worthy people don’t need a book to support their beliefs, and those who lack a sense of justice or are unfriendly will remain unconvinced until the pain of their decision changes their mind.
The matters affecting America are important to all of humanity. Many of these issues have ramifications and rely on principles that affect people around the world. The attack on the natural rights of all people should be a concern of every person regardless of whether they are the victims of those who are destroying their rights or the ones destroying the rights and regardless of whether they are rich or poor and what their political views might be.
The publication of this edition of this book was delayed to give the King and Parliament time to challenge the validity of the Doctrine of Independence. Since there has been no answer from either entity, it is assumed there will not be any and the time for debate has ended.
The author of this book is unimportant. The principles are important, not the man. Even though the author’s political affiliation is immaterial to the message of this book, the author avers that he is not connected to any political party and is not under any sort of influence, government or private, but has created this purely on principle.”
Putting that in the context of today you can see why it’s so profound and the purpose as important today as it ever was.
When Thomas Paine wrote Common Sense, the country was deeply divided. At that time it was over the issue of independence. Not everyone wanted independence. The divided opinions were deep and vile.
Thinking about the issue of division today we find the same problem. Deep, vile division. The issues are different, but the problem remains the same. Thomas Paine addressed the issue head on. He addresses it in the very first sentence. “Not everyone will agree with the principles outlined in this book.”
Not only does he recognize there are differences he goes on to validate the opposing side! Imagine if we saw that kind of reasoning today.
Then he makes the foundation of his position clear. “Eventually every abuse of power is called into question.” It’s a simple truth that everyone can understand.
Then he lays the basis for his argument, principles. And, he identifies the importance of those principles. “The matters affecting America are important to all of humanity. Many of these issues have ramifications and rely on principles that affect people around the world.”
This is quite possibly one of the most important reminders today. The future of America is in large part the future of the world. That’s not boasting. It’s the simple truth of the matter.
America has paved a path to freedom like no other country in history. That freedom is fragile, and while we might disagree on many things we ought to join together and acknowledge this important responsibility.