Common Sense

Will Rogers once said, “Just because something is common sense, doesn’t mean it will be common practice.”

I took a quick look on the internet for more quotes about common sense, and found many. Interesting though, few of the authors were active after 1925. Edison, Shaw, Twain, Jefferson, Emerson, Wilde, Whitehead, Stowe, Descartes and James to name a few, were present. Either common sense is becoming a lost art or there is nothing left to say about it.

We intuitively believe that common sense is easily seen and understood. That might not be so.

It is a huge advantage when known and used. It cuts through the clutter and leaves the distilled, and important elements only. Sadly, for many, it is no longer common nor easily sensed.

We need to ask ourselves whether we have we lost the ability to find it and use it or for that matter even recognize it when it strikes us in the forehead. Seeing that modern quotes of the type are rare, maybe common sense itself is becoming rare.

An old idea

“A handful of common sense is worth a bushel of learning.” – Proverb

A more modern idea.

“In any war, the first casualty is common sense, and the second is free and open discussion.” – James Reston.

James Reston was a Pulitzer winning journalist born in 1909 who lived into the ’90’s. In my scheme, he qualifies as a new thinker on the subject.

He may also be on to something.

Our society is becoming more polarized and the politicians and the media would have us believe that there are fundamental conflicts at every turn. The war on drugs, the war on global warming, the war on terrorism, the war on homelessness, and the war on poverty come to mind.

Would these pseudo-wars qualify as war in the Reston sense?

Quite likely.

Judging by the outcome, we can assume they are real wars. Common sense appears to be a casualty and free and open discussion is near death. Political correctness is a poor substitute for either.

Our world has become one of spin, exaggeration, bluff, politics, calumny, obfuscation, and outright dishonesty. Almost no common sense and little if any respect for contrary opinion.

Common sense works. We should find and use more of it.

Common sense is such an advantage for those who can use it that I expect it will be designated a super-power and regulated by some government agency or other.

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario. don.s@protectorsgroup.com

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