[I must apologize again to regular readers for the length of time between new posts at Common Sense. My only excuse is that as I prepare to run a campaign for Congress, I have less time to spend on the blog. In that spirit, I offer a repost of the second essay ever to appear here on this site. I hope to have something new for readers soon, but in the meantime, here is something you’ve probably not seen before, unless you’ve been digging through the archives.]

Common Sense….an inborn trait that most of us possess. Common sense is the ability to view a situation and discern the proper thing to do. Proper as defined by our system of laws and morals. Common sense developed to warn us that all was not right in the world around us. Its daily application probably kept our ancestors from becoming dinner long enough to propagate the species. Without this ability, humankind could not have gone as far as it has. As our capabilities progressed, as we tamed nature, common sense spread into more areas of our lives. We learned to hone the instinct of common sense and apply it to all areas of life. Common sense lets you know that an umbrella can keep you dry on a rainy day. Common sense reminds you to use the bathroom before boarding a seven-hour flight. Common sense says that robbing the bank will get you arrested. We all possess, to some degree, a measure of common sense.

Why then does it seem that so many of our legislators and educators and scientists lack this innate ability? Or do other, less attractive traits overshadow the application of common sense in today’s daily life? It is difficult to believe that the highly educated leaders or our society could lack such a basic survival skill as common sense. Therefore, we can only surmise that they suppress this ability for some purpose. What could cause someone, especially someone entrusted with the public welfare, to abandon the one trait that warns of trouble or danger? Whatever it could be, you can be sure that the suspension of common sense is often accompanied by two things- personal profit of some kind, and eventual downfall.

The personal profit derived can take shape in many ways. For some, financial reward is enough to do the trick. For others, it is the thought of gaining power that makes the sharp eye dull. Some just seek the perception of greatness, even if only over a peer. The form of profit is as different as the people who throw away their common sense. If their transgressions come to light, though, and the clarity of what should have been done is addressed, those who seek profit usually end up taking a fall. And eventually, when the cards come tumbling down, the mess they leave behind lingers like an old piece of Limburger cheese.

Today, our leaders seem to embrace the lack of common sense through the use of “Political Correctness.” The belief that calling a black kettle blue will result in more harmony between all the pots and pans has not proven itself true. The hope that by embracing all behavior types or offering all things to all people will create a better world has been refuted by the state of our society. Our schools, in an effort to be all things to all people, have instead failed in doing what they were designed to do, which is to teach our children the fundamentals of knowledge. Our industries, in an effort to earn more profit than the competitor, have shown our workers that loyalty is passé. Our government, in an effort to consolidate power through targeted pandering, has sold our freedom to the highest bidder or the biggest whiner. And in proliferating the use of “PC Lingo,” this insidiousness has penetrated all of our lives. Political correctness has made us afraid to tell the truth in plain, common terms. We obfuscate, intimidate, procrastinate, and segregate ourselves while the policy wonks look on. We marginalize our similarities and exacerbate our frivolities to the point of absurdity in an effort to gain a supposed advantage over someone or something. And in the process of playing along, we suspend our common sense. We forget that we are the ones getting the short stick. We buy into the nonsense and blissfully go along for the ride.

This has been happening now for a generation at least. The “Why can’t we all just be friends” crowd has morphed into the “You’ll never suffer like I have so just pay up and go away” crowd. We act like a bunch of PC morons, bumping into walls that we helped to build. And the worst part of all is we’re passing it on to our kids. We are not only managing to handicap them with this madness right from the start, we’re crippling them by not nurturing their common sense. Because we’ve already turned ours off. I’m no conspiracy goofball, but if the goal of PC-ness was subjugation of the masses by way of mental anesthetizing, the organizers must surely be pleased. What better way to control everyone than by not letting the truth be heard and judged accordingly. What better way than to create so many obstacles to the common sense way that no one bothers to look for it. What better way than to brand your opponent as insensitive, surely today’s equivalent of heretic, blaspheme, or barbarian.

Most of the world’s problems come from either a lack of common sense or a lack of will. Ruthless, corrupt, or self-aggrandizing organizations or governments that cause only harm to their people operate on a lack of common sense and the exploitation of lack of will. Common sense dictates that if success is derived from productivity, and if productivity relies on content people, then to harm the people will not cause success, and failure is at some point certain. But the exploitation of the people’s lack of will to change their government, either through fear and repression or by apathy and ignorance, usually guarantees that those “in charge” will be around long enough to cause some long term damage. Often, when they are exposed, they are replaced by another with the same tactics, albeit different goals. And so the whole circle begins again.

We hear and see examples of this growing menace, this lack of common sense, every day. We read stories in the papers about stupid criminals or corrupt politicians or spoiled entertainers and the stupid things they have done. We laugh or shake our heads and then forget about it and go on our way. We act outraged though when public policy appears to slight anyone, and enact legislation to ensure that everyone gets their daily hug of encouragement. We attempt to make the world fair for everyone, often forgetting that by changing a rule to favor Jane, we have now altered John’s world and have to make a rule to cover that, which screws up Jack’s day and on and on. We used to learn that life isn’t fair and that the world is a tough place. Well that’s still true today. And while it’s noble to try to make everyone happy, we can’t forget to use our common sense in doing so. Rekindle the spirit of compromise for the general good and extinguish the PC nonsense. We have the capacity, as a species, to work and live harmoniously and still disagree about things. We have the ability to organize our societies in ways that benefit the majority without subjugating the minority. These are things that we have the means to achieve. We just have to use our common sense.

Our great task is to show that only through the generous application of Common Sense can we ever hope to live in peace and have the chance for prosperity. The traits for survival exist in us all. Societal survival requires mutual trust based on the common welfare. I know, in my heart of hearts, that we are not completely lost. There are enough of us out there who still believe in calling a black kettle black, and if the kettle has a problem then he ought to look in the mirror. The truth is what it is. And common sense helps us recognize the truth.