The Rights Of Man – More Than Just A Pub Sign Or Ship’s Name

Paine

I will freely confess to being a reader of Thomas Paine. “Common Sense” and The Rights of Man” have been in my library for many years and were joined recently by a paperback copy of The Age Of Reason”. I take hours working my way through the language of the eighteenth century but it is time well-spent.

Thomas was execrated in his own time as much as he was praised. His writings inspired tens of thousands who expressed their agreement or hatred in far stronger terms than a Facebook “like” or vulgar remark. I find it sad to think that, while his works live on and monuments are raised to him, his actual bones have not found a quiet resting place. You may google up the story of that – I find it an incredible mess.

Still, he is not the first inspiring public figure whose carcase has been spirited away, leaving his disciples to carry on. That seems to have been quite the little fashion in the past – particularly in the Middle East. Perhaps this is due to the prevailing heat or the near proximity to divinity. I hesitate to suggest flying saucers  and tractor beams…

Tom’s thoughts have been in the forefront of two revolutions – the American and the French. He probably wrote too much sense to be of much use to the Russians but then they didn’t really make a go of theirs for much more than 70 years before switching back to the old system. Most of the the other revolutions since have been pretty much trading one set of overlords for another, with the added horror of religious sanction for the maiming and murdering.

The really interesting thing is that I suspect I could get dismissed from employment, ostracized from family and social groups, or shot at by religious fanatics for actively espousing his principles and/or publishing his opinions. I hope to be able to devise a way of doing just this later in the year during a special holiday. Until then I shall watch the social media to see who posts over the next few days. Currently there is a perfect opportunity for people to indulge themselves in the excesses of patriotism, emotion, fawning obsequiousness, and all those other good things.

Note: If ever there was a time for the R.E., I suspect it is now.

 

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