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I greatly admire the writing of Thomas Paine. I have always felt that he had covered just about all the bases when one considers what the real “commonsense” truth is in relation to the State and the People. There have been many others that have written the truth before and after Tom Paine, but nobody has put their ideas in such straightforward and succinct terms that almost anyone can understand.
Commonsense and The Age of Reason (which I believe should be required reading for all students) are still, if not more than relevant in these times of turmoil. Now, more than ever, the ridiculous notions of the evangelical Christians and their affiliation with the rabid right, along with the Islamic religion with its Koran and the Jews and the teachings of the Torah, have only managed to fuel the fires of a politically tense world. There are those that use religion to pursue their ethnocentric ideologies to provide a pretext in order to divide people that otherwise would have no animosity towards one another.
It is an unassailable fact that the younger generations of both Europe and the United States are turning their backs on the fairytales told by those that would use religion to justify longstanding hatreds. This is of itself a very good thing. Whether or not one believes in a creator is not the issue. The problems arise when those that claim some kind of advanced understanding of theological issues use that so-called “understanding” to manipulate other human beings into doing their will. Crusades, Jihads, Holy Wars and modern day warfare, all have religion supporting one side or another, if not both sides. The sooner religion is understood to be a force not for good, but a force that manipulates human values and thought in order to subjugate people, the better.
While religion in the West fades into the sunset albeit too slowly for many, it is being replaced by what is commonly known as “The Media”. While some people understand that the media only exists to titillate people while they use the people’s interests to sell products to them, there is a darker, more insidious side to what we see and hear in the western world. The media in Europe and North America has managed to take the place of the dogmas of the old religions.
Most of what people see and hear about almost everything, is brought to them via the media. When I talk about the “media”, I’m not just talking about news outlets; I’m talking about music, TV Shows, billboard ads, motion pictures and even video games. The media has replaced religion as the opiate of the masses. To illustrate how powerful the media is, one has only to watch how a so-called “modern, educated people” were led to believe that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction that were aimed at the United States after that nation had somehow been complicit in the events of 9/11. This clever ruse was used even though for two decades it was the United States that propped up Saddam’s dictatorship and sided with them against Iran. This in itself illustrates the power of the media. Even after the people of America realized that the basic premise in the invasion of Iraq was a lie, they were cajoled into believing we were now there to install some kind of elusive “democracy” on the Iraqi people.
All one has to do is to watch how the Arab and Middle-Easterners are portrayed in our media to understand the scope of its power. The entire Islamic religion is portrayed as a fanatical sect while people of the Middle-East are shown as a people that have no regard for the sanctity of human life.
There is however, a way that people can sidestep the abuses of the media and the powerful people that control it. While it is impossible to turn away from the media and boycott the garbage that emanates from it, people can shield themselves from harmful propaganda that disguises itself as truth. The only way people can learn the truth is to read.
That is precisely why I brought up Thomas Paine in the beginning of this article. We are not unique. The truth is that those that lived before us were much the same as we are now. They faced the same problems that we face today. The advantage that we have over our predecessors is that we have the wisdom of their best and brightest that has survived the onslaught of time. If only people read more of Paine, Patrick Henry, Jefferson, Robespierre and others of keen intellect, we would see through the falsities of today’s headlines.
Besides reading the works of great political thinkers, there is a more pragmatic and practical way to get the American government back into the hands of the majority. For far too long our American government has been controlled by the rich and powerful. To illustrate this, according to The Center for Responsible Politics, the average Senate race cost 1.5 million dollars. The Connecticut Senate race cost over 26 Million dollars! Who can afford to run for office besides the rich and powerful or the handpicked lackeys of the rich and powerful? There is a way to eliminate money in political traces, and that is to simply eliminate private money from political races! Congress could easily put a cap on campaign finances and provide public money for political campaigns. That measure in itself would help to eliminate corporate control of the American government. They won’t do it however, because it would open political races to the average American who wishes to serve in government.
That brings us back to the concept of reading. If we cannot change the way our government is run by electing those that have the fortitude to change the status quo, we can change it. Of course one must read The Declaration of Independence that contains these all-important words:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Those to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”
Since campaign finance reform will not be passed by politicians, against their better interests, it should be voted on in a nationwide referendum. We have the power to call for that referendum. The two major political parties, the Democrats and Republicans won’t do it; they are tethered to their corporate benefactors. The people must rise up and demand this change so as to take our government back from the rich and powerful. The time has arrived when Americans must demand that power be given back to the people. This nation is long overdue for true political reform. Don’t count on our elected officials or the media to undertake this burden, for only the people of this nation will effect this change. As it was in the past it is in the present, we can throw off the chains that enable others to control what is rightfully ours…our government.