Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Thomas Paine Quoted in Obama's Inauguration Address

Though not mentioned by name, the hand that penned some of the last words of President Obama's Inaugural speech belonged to Thomas Paine. Taken from his work entitled The American Crisis #1, the following words remind us that even when held at the brink of despair, hope has and will rally these United States to survive and thrive.

"Let it be told to the future world ... that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive ... that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet it."

Thomas Paine was not mentioned by name perhaps because of the controversial stigma that came to be associated with his character later in life along with the publication of his treatise criticizing all established religions of the world The Age of Reason. This caused his image to reflect poorly in the minds of some of the United States greatest leaders. Teddy Roosevelt once labeled Paine a "dirty little atheist." Though, Paine was in fact a self proclaimed deist believing in one God.

As a president cognizant enough to mention non-believers by name in his inaugural speech begins the immense task of rebuilding a nation torn apart by fear it is my hope that the subtleties of the founder's intellects will be explored and extolled once again.

As for the climax of the inaugural speech; it came for me with the following paragraph.

"As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more."

This extends a friendly hand to the planet while echoing the wise words of Benjamin Franklin when he said.

"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."

With the promise of the still waters of peace on the horizon may this be attained swiftly and with minimal human suffering.

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