The Crisis, by Thomas Paine
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 by 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.
This Mythic America series has been a lot harder to write than I thought it would be. It isn’t that I don’t know what I want to say, it’s how I want to say it. I’ve had so many ideas bouncing around in my head. I wrote the War Vector chapter, but I don’t like it. I’m trying write it so that everyone doesn’t end up hating every word, but it isn’t working. The message I have is not going to be popular. The Savior wisely said that men don’t like new wine, they prefer the old. I am definitely cooking up a vat of new wine. Cheers!
I’ve been reading Modern Man in Search of a Soul by Carl Jung and that has spurred a thousand thoughts. I’ve been watching Donald Trump’s Twitter feed growing increasingly erratic. I thought it was bad before, but he has taken it to a whole new level. Watching my country slowly bleeding to death from self inflicted wounds has sparked a desperation inside of me to figure out how we got to this place and how to get us out. How did Russia, our old cold war nemesis, manage to rise from the ashes like a phoenix and strike us with such astonishingly powerful venom? How can we have become so vulnerable to the overtures of a tyrant? How can we unite again as a nation and throw off the despot’s yoke? Will the Republican Party survive their treachery? If not, will another party rise up in its place? Will the Democratic Party take advantage of the power vacuum and create a one party nation? It is already vastly powerful, but with no serious competition how long will it be before it is odiously corrupt?
These are not political questions. These are not even national questions. Quite literally, these are global concerns with relevance to future generations yet unborn. We are at war with forces we scarcely understand and our choices today have consequences far beyond the present moment.
First off, I want to communicate something that I never realized until this year. The Democrats and the Republicans need one another to be strong and healthy. I always thought that politics was a zero sum game where one side’s loss was the other side’s gain. In electing Donald Trump, we cut off our nose to spite our face. Now we are bashing our head into the wall, slitting our wrists, and drinking copious amounts of poison. The left is thinking that it’s going to be okay because all the wounds are on the right side of the body. They think the right side of the body will die and they will survive, but the trouble is, if one side dies so does the other. The Republican Party’s fall to authoritarian seduction will kill the Republic one way or the other.
Abraham Lincoln understood this concept of symbiotic dependence. He didn’t demonize the South like other Northerners did. He understood that a healthy, well functioning union would require all of the states, not just the Northern ones. After the war he and his successors did not seek to subvert and enslave the South, but to rebuild it. If there is ever to be a truly United States again post Trump, we need to put aside our differences and come together on principles that we can all agree on. That is going to take some humility and some soul searching on both sides of the political aisle. I can hear the left screaming on Twitter that I am being unfair, that Trump is not their fault. I would say that children talk about fault and blame. We need to rise above childish things and talk about solutions. We are going to have to do difficult things and have uncomfortable conversations. We will need to question long held views and shed simple answers to complex issues. Most of all, we need to stop demonizing one another. That is what Putin wants. Today he sides with Trump, tomorrow, he will find someone worse. He will not relent until the free world goes up in flames and all men are under his heel or the heel of someone like him that he can relate to and control.
Perhaps you think these difficult things are not necessary. You feel that you can continue to live in freedom and prosperity while the fabric of our nation unravels around you. Perhaps you believe that the system will hold, that Trump is not so dangerous, that the Democratic Party will save us, or the Republican Party (Trump Party) will be able to force the country to accept authoritarian rule. I don’t see that happening. I see the nose of the plane is pointed at the ground and if someone doesn’t change the course, we will crash and die together along with the hopes of the entire world. God expects us to do what we can to preserve the blessings he has given us, rather than watch impotently as they disappear depriving our children and grandchildren of life in a free Republic. The stakes could not be higher, and no one is going to like what I have to say about what we need to do about it. No one.
Still, as I read Thomas Paine’s ingenious essay, I felt a spark of hope. Perhaps there is a way out of this quagmire. America has had dark days in the past. We have struggled with disunity and disloyalty to freedom’s principles in the past. We have endured dark times and perhaps we will rise above this panic. Time will tell.
The Crisis by Thomas Paine
Yet panics, in some cases, have their uses; they produce as much good as hurt. Their duration is always short; the mind soon grows through them, and acquires a firmer habit than before. But their peculiar advantage is, that they are the touchstones of sincerity and hypocrisy, and bring things and men to light, which might otherwise have lain forever undiscovered. In fact, they have the same effect on secret traitors, which an imaginary apparition would have upon a private murderer. They sift out the hidden thoughts of man, and hold them up in public to the world.