Opinions on faith and life

Patriot Day


Do we really honor the victims of 9/11/01, and the soldiers who died since then? In honor of Patriot Day, I simply offer quotes about government, human nature, and history that deserve consideration. Most of these are from this site.

“A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.” —Thomas Jefferson

“Of course the people don’t want war… But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship… Voice or no voice, the people can always to brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger. It works the same in any country.” —Field Marshal Herman Goering who served as Adolph Hitler’s second in command and head of the Luftwaffe in World War II Germany, during a post war discussion.

“They feed the crocodile in the hope that he will eat them last.” — Winston Churchill’s observation about appeasers.

“Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.” — Frederic Bastiat, French Economist (1801-1850)

“A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.” — George Bernard Shaw

“In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man’s becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag, which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile...We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language...and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.” — Theodore Roosevelt 1907

“Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.” 
—Douglas Adams (1952-2001) 

“They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

“If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed.”

“The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.”

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” —Benjamin Franklin

“Isn’t it interesting that the same people who laugh at science fiction listen to weather forecasts and economists?” 
—Kelvin Throop III

“Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities.” 
— Albert Einstein

“Once a wrong idea about reality has been formed, it becomes more difficult to discover the truth.” 
— Unknown

“Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.” — Alexander Hamilton

“The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”

“Every generation needs a new revolution.”

“Experience hath shown, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”

“When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.”  — Thomas Jefferson



I am reading a ’bio’ of Thomas Paine right now that is very interesting. The author admits there is very little of his early life but writes based on the times and place he grew up in.

You can trace his beliefs in Common Sense by what he saw.

What I did not know is that he did not take any income from Common Sense which would have made him a rich man. (He came here with nothing but a letter of intro from Ben Franklin whom he met in London)

He also published it anonymously.

But this backwoods guy, born a Quaker, who had only arrived a year before writing Common Sense, made a huge impact on the Revolution.

Paula Fether

Thanks for that, Lin. Our history has been rewritten in many textbooks, if it is written about at all, but hopefully we will always have access to the truth, and take advantage of it. We truly are repeating the mistakes of the past and tearing down everything the founders of this nation fought for.

Greg Anderson

Paine was also a deist , promoted free thinking, and repudiated organized religion.

Like Spinoza, and he probably got the idea from Spinoza, Paine believed that only a secular government can only truly safeguard freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.

Contrary to the claims of many well funded groups on the Christian Right, America was NOT founded on the Christian religion.

The fact that many of the founders, who ranged from nominal church goers to bonafide clergymen, and who invoked public prayer at the Philadelphia convention, is not the same thing at all.

Sorry for the detour, cuz’ after all the topic is patriotism and remembrance of 9/11.

I totally agree that freedom is not free. My father flew a B-17 deep into Germany during WWII and helped crush their industrial war-machine, and it had to be done.

But the two ruinous wars we got entangled in (Vietnam & Iraq) after the Eisenhower administration, were primarily waged to benefit various sectors of corporate interests.

Not the same thing as what my father and countless others of the finest generation did at all.

Paula Fether

Of course there’s endless debate on how Christian the founding of the US was, and I have some links here about that. But I agree as well that much of what the government has done since the early 1900s has been a relentless march toward an oligarchy, with a few delays and setbacks. But the point I’m making here is that true patriotism holds to the Constitution, but even then, it cannot work unless the people have a strong moral foundation, especially in the belief that we respect the property and lives of our fellow citizens.


I cannot say that growing up in England would not have produced the same fear of ’organized’ religion in me. Look at the history of ’religion’ in that country. It was so melded to government that wars were fought over it constantly. What I find interesting is that the Presbyterians were just as brutal as the Anglicans and Catholics. They all had blood on their hands. Even the Quakers fought with Cromwell.

Paine did make a few good points in that he believed it was safer for the people to have 30 different religious groups in a country than one or two. And yes, he advocated secular government.

I guess what is truly interesting about him is that in his time, he was considered a lowly staymaker and lightly educated. But he read and educated himself, came here and within a year wrote Common Sense. he would never have been able to do that in England.

Our constitution is taking a beating right now.

Paula Fether

You’ve got me reading Common Sense now, and aside from the clear and salient points he makes in Origin and Design of Government, I would say his endictment of the very structure and design of the government of England would apply equally to that of the "church" since the apostles died.

While of course God can and has worked through "church" as tradition has had it, it is inherently flawed in that its very hierarchy foments pride and oppression. While possessors of such positions may not be conscious of such pride, it creates a situation where one is trying to humbly exercise the imposition of their will over others. It cannot be done! And as I noted before "servant leader" comes not from scripture but from New Age teachings (one source Here).


"You’ve got me reading Common Sense now, and aside from the clear and salient points he makes in Origin and Design of Government, I would say his endictment of the very structure and design of the government of England would apply equally to that of the “church” since the apostles died. "

I agree. I think we are totally blind to what constitutes the ekklesia. It is so hard to get away from tradition.

And I am aware at one time people could not imagine NOT having a monarch of some sort. It was unthinkable.

This is also what makes America unique in the world. It is also another reason that government has a harder time of getting folks to buy into such things as universal health care.

I have heard many reformers talk about our lack of understanding the Sovereignty of God because we have no idea of a Monarch or ruler to submit to. I always chuckle when I think of that explanation and think of Paine who grew up with such thinking.


Paula, You said that Paine’s criticism of the "structure and design of the government of England would apply equally to that of the ’church’ since the apostles died." Interesting thought. I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise, since the church and government of England were intertwined as part of the same power structure and paradigm, just like the Catholic church from which it sprang.

Lin, It may well be that, as some reformed folk claim, those raised in a constitutional republic would not understand the concept of sovereignty in the same way as would someone raised under a monarch. But what those reformers might be forgetting is that even the very best human monarchy would not come close to accurately reflecting the sovereignty of God. I think that some have a skewed concept of God’s sovereignty that makes Him out to be an arbitrary despot, like a human king. Part of the fallenness of humanity is trying to make God in our own image.

Paula Fether

I really do believe that the reformed concept of sovereignty is the key issue. God cannot violate His own nature, which is both holiness and love, such that His sovereignty cannot override those characteristics. Only a despot puts sovereignty into a vacuum and divorces it from character.


"I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise, since the church and government of England were intertwined as part of the same power structure and paradigm, just like the Catholic church from which it sprang. "

Can you imagine the army counting how many ’coventers’ (Presbyterian), Quakers, Anglicans, Baptists it had when going to subdue the Catholic Irish?

And a protestant might be a secret catholic!

Paine had it right about secular government and 30 different religions. We humans love to put people on pedestals and we do it in the Name of Christ, too.