DEXTER - The June book club meeting drew 11 members to the Abbott Memorial Library in Dexter where Ed Hummel led the discussion for the evening. He reviewed the historical background of Thomas Paine and the political turmoil enveloping this country a the time of the revolution. Paine's "Common Sense" became a best seller in colonial America selling 160,000 copies. Paine's writing appealed to the common man of the day and motivated the colonialists to make changes in their political life and revolt to create a democratic form of government. Jim Greehy of Dexter felt Paine did an excellent job of villanizing the British as our perceived enemy, the common foe. He noted that Paine, who was against a state religion nevertheless used many religious passages to back his point that "all are equal in the eyes of the maker."
Julianne Peakes of St. Albans questioned who Paine was trying to reach with his essay. Susan Garrettson of Abbot, explained that Paine's writings were read in public halls and at community gatherings so that the illiterate could still hear his firey rehetoric and connect directly with the author. She pointed out that this is no longer the case in American society. Today all "news" reaches the people only after being edited and having the "spin" put on it. This happens when the media distributes information today. All information is being distributed by the few large corporations that own all this country's news outlets.
George Brown stated that we have lost our experiment with democracy today. He feels people are asleep and don't realize that we are living under a semi-trynnical form of government. "Cronyism" has resulted in a new "elite" similar to the aristocracy that Paine railed against.
Ed Hummel expressed his concern that this country took a wrong turn sometime after the second world war and has never returned to the social, economic and political tenents of our grandparents. Ruth Sherman agreed saying she has seen enormous changes in this country, even this town, since she arrived in the 1940s.
Jim Greehy will moderate the next meeting of the book club on July 30th when the club meets again to discuss Bill McKibben 's "Deep Economy."
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