Common Sense / by Krista Boivie

ommon sense is heralded as a very useful trait. Meant to imply that someone has good sense in practical matters, common sense can help us out whenever we are stuck in a jam, need to fight street thugs or if we are about to get sucked into some sort of “it’s too good to be true” scheme. 

I have far too many stories of when I have failed to use common sense. Good example would be the story of how I broke my leg. For those that know me understand this hilarious story is fraught with poor decision after poor decision. I promise it will appear at some stage on this blog but it doesn’t work as a printed story—it must be delivered in person.

Today being the celebration of independence in the United States, I wanted to focus on a different kind of Common Sense—the book written by Thomas Paine.

The Sun never shined on a cause of greater worth.
— Thomas Paine, Common Sense

Published in January of 1776 the book was an immediate success and it fueled the fire of the colonists in their fight against the British. Using the ideas that emerged from the European Enlightenment movement Paine wrote in very plain language about the rights and responsibilities of a government and the grievous way that Britain had treated the colonists.

Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.
— Thomas Paine, Common Sense

I read the book the first time when I took AP U.S. history in high school.  At the time I didn’t get the importance or sense the magnitude in the movement that would occur.  At the time I had only lived in the U.S. for a year and was still missing my home in Canada. Today, I better understand the importance of this book and the words of Thomas Paine. I am awed by the story of this country and those that fought and continue to fight for the independence that was so hard won. 

One of my favorite quotes from Thomas Paine, is not from Common Sense but from a collect of articles he wrote called 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 men and women.
— Thomas Paine, The American Crisis