Thomas Paine, A Quote, And Person Of Interest

Isn’t it strange how the human brain works? It’s workings are mysterious and unfathomable, right?

Before I answer that, I have a confession to make. Finding a topic for a blog post every week is very difficult. It is more difficult than writing a 400 page book. Oh well, maybe it’s not that hard, but it is not an easy task at all. One has to find a topic she likes, is interesting to read, it inspires, or at least kindles thoughts or conversations. I know, if one post does all that, then it’s like hitting the jackpot of topics. But we try . . . I try.

Since today is posting day, I was looking for inspiration. And I remembered this quote from the incomparable Thomas Paine – “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.”― Thomas Paine, The American Crisis

Now, I had first come across that quote a long, long time ago. If I remember right, I was in high school then. I loved it, but then as the years passed by, it got buried under fresher discoveries and newer memories. Until I rediscovered it. I recalled reading Thomas Paine, back then I was a starry eyed idealist, as most kids in high school are. Now, without getting too deep, I can say that I have changed with time. Yet, Thomas Paine remains as inspirational as always.

Political philosopher and writer Thomas Paine was born in England. Published in 1776, his pamphlet “Common Sense” was the first to advocate American independence. He wrote  “The American Crisis” pamphlet series during the Revolution, then in Europe he wrote “The Rights of Man” in defense of the French Revolution. Later, after a stint in prison, he published “The Age of Reason,” an exposition of institutionalized religion, and “Agrarian Justice,” on land reform.

There is not much I can add about Thomas Paine, so I will quote – “Throughout most of his life, his writings inspired passion, but also brought him great criticism. He communicated the ideas of the Revolution to common farmers as easily as to intellectuals, creating prose that stirred the hearts of the fledgling United States. He had a grand vision for society: he was staunchly anti-slavery, and he was one of the first to advocate a world peace organization and social security for the poor and elderly. But his radical views on religion would destroy his success, and by the end of his life, only a handful of people attended his funeral.”

What I want to get to though is how I got into rediscovering these profound writings. It was a few months ago, not in a library, not on goodreads, but while watching my current favorite sci-fi show “Person of Interest.” For the uninitiated, POI runs Tuesdays on CBS, it is a crime procedural, but the real story is about all powerful AIs (Artificial Intelligence) and the threat they pose to humanity.

The show, is, not just good, entertaining TV but also deep without being pedantic. It is rich, with hidden clues, multidimensional characters, and intricate story lines that keep you thinking long after you are done watching it. To summarize, it is my kind of storytelling. Try it, there is a good chance you will like it. Anyway, it was the Finale of Season 3 and the episode was Deus Ex Machina.”  There, in one of the game changing scenes, we get to hear – “Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered.” Within second, I went from CBS to American History, from now back to my schooldays.

So, yes. Our minds are wonderful things. How it makes connections, how fast it makes them, is surely a thing of beauty. Borrowing from POI, it is our minds, and the way we think that make us unique, humans.

I will leave you with the full quote that triggered this, one of my favorites from Thomas Paine, from his The American Crisis – “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 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.”

S.G. Basu is an aspiring potentate of a galaxy or two. She plots and plans with wondrous machines, cybernetic robots, time travelers and telekinetic adventurers, some of whom escape into the pages of her books. Once upon a previous life on planet Earth, S.G. Basu trained to be an engineer, and her interest in science and her love of engineering shows up time and again in her books.

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