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The New American Crisis 07/03/2009

Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine's original essay can be read online at USHistory.org

 

"These are the times that try men's souls," wrote Thomas Paine as war descended upon the United States colonies in December of 1776. Over two centuries later, another kind of war has settled upon our country. We find ourselves in a culture war -- a war of ideas -- whose effects could shape the future of the world every bit as much as the events of the late eighteenth century.

In Paine's time, the Tories sought to conquer America, led by General William Howe; today, the progressives are on an offensive equally as aggressive as Paine's foes. I offer Paine's words, paraphrased and adapted for today's culture war, as inspiration to battle the progressive agenda. This weekend we celebrate our independence and pray for the preservation of it.


Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we take comfort in the fact that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheaply, we esteem too lightly; the cost of freedom illustrates its value. The "progressives," with an army of ideologues to enforce their tyranny, has declared a right not only to tax, but to bind all Americans to their cause. If being bound in that manner is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth.

It is surprising to see how rapidly a panic will sometimes run through a country. All nations and ages have been subject to them. Yet the current urgency regarding the economy, global warming, social issues, border security and terrorism brings things to light which might otherwise have lain forever undiscovered. They sift out the hidden thoughts of man and hold them up in public to the world.

Why is it that the progressives have made America their new battleground? The answer is easy: we are infested with progressives. I have been careful in raising the cry against these ideas and used various arguments to show their danger, but I cannot stand by while they sacrifice our country to their folly and depravity. The time has come for one philosophy or another to win, for the two are incompatible. I am not afraid to battle a thousand progressives because progressivism is, in its essence, cowardice. Self-interested fear is the foundation and a man under such influence, though he may be cruel, can never be brave.

But before the line of irrecoverable separation is drawn between us, let us reason the matter together: Many leaders are as much deceived by their ideas as the American cause is injured by them. They expect all citizens to flock to his beliefs, yet our opinions are of no use to them, unless we support their agenda, for it is followers that they want.

Thomas Paine wrote about an early American who "was standing at his door, with as pretty a child in his hand, about eight or nine years old, as I ever saw, and after speaking his mind as freely as he thought was prudent, finished with this unfatherly expression, 'Well! give me peace in my day.' Not a man lives on the continent but fully believes that a separation must some time or other finally take place, and a generous parent should have said, 'If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace;' and this single reflection, well applied, is sufficient to awaken every man to duty."

Today, America must separate itself from the folly of progressivism and an ever-consuming federal government. I once felt an anger, which a man ought to feel, against the damaging principles that are being promoted today, but a man must distinguish himself between temper and principle. Still, I am confident that America will never be happy until she gets rid of the liberal, atheistic mindset of the progressives. The "culture war" will continue until that time, for though the flame of liberty may sometimes cease to shine, the spark can never expire.

It does not matter where you live or what position in society you hold. The evil or the blessing will reach you all. The far and the near, the cities and the rural areas, the rich and the poor, will suffer or rejoice alike. Our children will curse our cowardice if we shrink back at a time when a little might have saved the whole and made them happy. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow brave by reflection. It is the business of small minds to fear; but he whose heart is firm and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue Godly principles unto the end.

My own line of reasoning is to myself as straight and clear as a ray of light. Not all the treasures of the world can induce me to support the progressive, socialistic philosophy, for I believe it is destructive. But if a thief breaks into my house, steals my property, threatens me or those in my house, and seeks to bind me to his absolute will, am I to suffer it? What does it matter if it is one elected by a majority of voters or a common thief? Let them call me a rebel, but I will not suffer the misery of devils. I will not sell my soul or betray my principles by giving in to foolish, stubborn, worthless, misguided ideas.

It is madness to expect mercy from those who have refused to do justice; and even mercy, where conquest is the object. It is only a trick of politics; the cunning of the fox is as murderous as the violence of the wolf, and we ought to guard equally against both. The progressive's first object is, partly by threats and partly by promises, to terrify or seduce the people to deliver up their principles and receive mercy from the government. They are inviting us to destruction and only the foolish do not see it.

I thank God that I do not fear. I see no real cause for fear because I know our situation well and see the way out of it. By perseverance and fortitude we have the prospect of a glorious restoration. All we must know in America is simply this: who is for freedom and who is not? Those who are for it, will support it. The remainder will undoubtedly see the "reasonableness" of giving it over to the government. There is an illegitimate kind of generosity, which being extended to all men, is as fatal to society, on one hand, as the desire for true generosity is on the other. A lax manner of administering justice, falsely termed "fairness," has a tendency both to dispirit public virtue and promote the growth of public evils.

The encouragement and protection of good people, as well as the suppression and punishment of bad ones, are the principal objects for which all authority is properly instituted, and the line in which it ought to operate. We have in this country a strange variety of people and ideas, and the circumstances of the times require that they should be publicly debated; it is not the number of progressives that hurt us, so much as not finding out who they are and what they believe. We must now take one side or the other, and abide by the consequences.

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must support and defend it without wavering. The events of our age must awaken us to action. It is not a few acres of ground that we are defending, but a set of unshakeable principles and their implementation into our daily lives. Whether we compromise in one battle or by degrees, the consequences will be the same.

Those who are sincere in defending their freedom will always feel concern at every circumstance which seems to war against them; it is the natural and honest consequence of all affectionate attachments. But the dejection lasts only for a moment; they soon rise out of it with additional vigor; the glow of hope, courage and fortitude, will, in a little time, take the place of every inferior passion and kindle the whole heart into heroism. The nearer any disease approaches to a crisis, the nearer it is to a cure. Danger and deliverance make their advances together, and it is in the last push that one or the other takes the lead.

The power lies in the American people to determine the fate of our nation. Freedom is at stake. We can only save ourselves with a firm stand. Some cities and states have been invaded and brought down by progressive leaders and their policies. Others have staved off the destruction. Now our time has come. When we look back on the past dangers we have been saved from, and reflect on the success we have been blessed with, it would be wrong to be idle or to despair now.

We know the cause in which we are engaged and though our love of freedom and justice may make us grieve when it is threatened, our resolve to preserve it is strong. We are not moved by the glowing words of any charismatic leader, but by the ardent glow of Godly patriotism. We seek not to enslave, but to set a country free, and to make room upon the earth for honest men. In such a case we are sure that we are right and to that end, we will continue to fight. Thomas Paine was wise and courageous in his day. May we be just as wise and courageous in our day.


Author: James Robison

Editor: Randy Robison

Word Count: 1606

About the author: James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, a Christian media ministry and mission relief organization. He and his wife, Betty, host of the television program Life Today; He has authored numerous books, including The Soul of a Nation, The Absolutes: Freedom's Only Hope and True Prosperity.

Media Contact: Randy Robison, editor at jamesrobison.net . Photo available upon request. Reprint rights granted with attribution for complete, unedited article. Revisions allowed only with approval.