My mind often drifts back to Thomas Paine, one of many reluctant revolutionaries. He spent most of his life as a fairly normal person. There was nothing that particularly stood out about him. He didn’t come to America until he was middle aged.
Before that, he had tried to be a good husband and father, a good citizen and civil servant. He was an active member and leader in some communities he lived in back in England. When there were problems or injustices, he sought reform from within the system. He was a respectable figure at one point, a loyal subject of the Crown and a hardworking Englishman.
Then he realized what was needed was for him to be a good rabble-rouser and firebrand and eventually a good revolutionary. I’m sure he’d rather his life turned out easier with less suffering and struggle and instead more comfort and wealth. But that wasn’t the situation he found himself in and he had to deal with reality as it was, not as he wished it were.
As a moral person, this brought him to a simple and unavoidable conclusion. He wrote that, “I prefer peace. But if trouble must come, let it come in my time, so that my children can live in peace.” I agree. I prefer peace. But…