Richard G. Petty, MD

Free Thinker's Day

Today is Freethinker’s Day, ostensibly because January 29th is the birthday of Thomas Paine.

Born in Thetford in Norfolk in 1737, he emigrated from England to Philadelphia in 1774 after he met Benjamin Franklin in London, who advised him to seek his fortune in the Americas, and gave him letters of introduction. It was two years later that he published Common Sense, a popular pamphlet that argued for complete American independence from Britain and was an important influence on the American Revolution. This, probably more than any other single publication, paved the way for the Declaration of Independence.

Later that same year in his pamphlet The American Crisis he wrote his famous line, “These are the times that try men’s souls.

After the revolution was won, Paine returned to England in 1787, and in 1791 he published The Rights of Man, which opposed the idea of monarchy and defended the French Revolution. The book immediately created a sensation, with at least eight editions being published in 1791, and the work was quickly reprinted in the United States where it was widely distributed by the Jeffersonian societies.

The Rights of Man began as a defense of the French Revolution but it evolved into an analysis of the basic reasons for discontent in European society and suggested that republicanism was a remedy for the evils of arbitrary government, poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and war.

He was always a free thinker, and I’ve recently re-read the Rights of Man and been impressed by his writing, even if I don’t agree with all of his conclusions.

Free thinking is what lead to the creation of Integrated Medicine and the discovery that some of the Laws of Life have been evolving and changing over the last few centuries. These discoveries were all the fruits of thinking – and living – “outside the box.”

Here are a few of Thomas Paine’s quotable quotes:
“A bad cause will never be supported by bad means and bad men.”

“A constitution is not a thing in name only, but in fact. It has not an ideal but a real existence, and wherever it cannot be produced in a visible form, there is none. A constitution is a thing antecedent to a government, and a government is only the creature of a constitution. The constitution of a country is not the act of its government, but of a people constituting a government. It is the body of elements to which you refer, and quote article by article, and contains the principles on which the government shall be established–the form in which it shall be organized–the powers it shall have–the mode of elections–the duration of Congress–and, in fine, everything that relates to the complete organization of a civil government, and the principles on which it shall act, and by which it shall be bound. A constitution is to a government, therefore, what the laws made by that government are to a court of judicature. The court of judicature does not make laws, neither can it alter them; it only acts in conformity to the laws made; and the government is in like manner governed by the constitution.”

“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.”

“A republic properly understood is a sovereignty of justice, in contradistinction to a sovereignty of will.”

“A thing moderately good is not so good as it ought to be. Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice.”

“Accustom a people to believe that priests, or any other class of men who can forgive sins, and you will have sins in abundance.”

“Action and care will in time wear down the strongest frame, but guilt and melancholy are poisons of quick dispatch.”

“All the religions known in the world are founded, so far as they relate to man or the unity of man, as being all of one degree. Whether in heaven or in hell, or in whatever state man may be supposed to exist hereafter, the good and the bad are the only distinctions.”

“Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man”

“Character is much easier kept than recovered.”

“Civilization, or that which is so called, has operated two ways to make one part of society more affluent and the other part more wretched than would have been the lot of either in a natural state.”

“Compassion, the fairest associate of the heart.”

“He is not affected by the reality of distress touching his heart, but by the showy resemblance of it striking his imagination. He pities the plumage, but forgets the dying bird.”

“He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.”

“I believe that a man may write himself out of reputation when nobody else can do it.”

“I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and row brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.”

“It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry.”

“It is from our enemies that we often gain excellent maxims, and are frequently surprised into reason by their mistakes.”

“It is necessary to the happiness of a man that he be mentally faithful to himself.”

“Man must go back to nature for information.”

“Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice.”

“Most other passions have their periods of fatigue and rest, their suffering and their cure; but obstinacy has no resource, and the first wound is mortal.”

“My country is the world, and my religion to do good.”

“My mind is my own church.”

“Mystery is the antagonist of truth. It is a fog of human invention, that obscures truth, and represents it in distortion.”

“Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us.”

“Tears may soothe the wounds they cannot heal.”

“The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble that can gather strength from distress and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.”

“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 only in the last push that one or the other takes the lead.”

“The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.”

“The sublime and ridiculous are often so nearly related that it is difficult to class them separately. One step below the sublime makes the ridiculous and one step above the ridiculous makes the sublime again.”

“The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.”

“There is a natural firmness in some minds, which cannot be unlocked by trifles, but which, when unlocked, discovers a cabinet of fortitude.”

“These are the times that try men’s souls.”

“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it.”

“Though the flame of liberty may sometimes cease to shine, the coal can never expire.”

“Time makes more converts than reason.”

“’Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.”

“Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.”

“We feel something like respect for consistency even in error. We lament the virtue that is debauched into a vice; but the vice that affects a virtue becomes the more detestable.”

“We fight not to enslave, but to set a country free, and to make room upon the earth for honest men to live in.”

“We have it in our power to begin the world over again.”

“What we obtain too cheap we esteem too little; it is dearness only that gives everything its value.”

“When men yield up the privilege of thinking, the last shadow of liberty quits the horizon.”

“When the tongue or the pen is let loose in a frenzy of passion, it is the man, and not the subject, that becomes exhausted.”

“When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary.”

About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

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