Like many people whose lives are so pitiful they turn to their TVs for a sense of well-being and fulfillment I spent much of last week glued to mine watching the unfolding of the Great American drama.
Will they default?
Will they have a deal?
Will their credit rating be downgraded?
Will the world economy collapse?
Will another politician e-mail pictures of his genitals to women all over the world?
Naturally CNN, Fox, ABC, CBS, NBC and that guy who does the news on channel 734 all had abundant supplies of freshly pressed and ironed talking heads lining up to interpret every comment, gesture and nuance of anybody and everybody who was in any way connected to this Earth shaping event.
What garnered my attention throughout this exemplary display of adult behaviour was the frequency with which the above-mentioned talking heads used the phrase Common Sense.
“Of course they have to raise the debt ceiling. It’s common sense.”
“It’s insanity to raise the debt ceiling. We have to reduce our debt not increase it. It’s common sense.”
“The Speakers proposal is the only intelligent way to go. It’s common sense.”
“The Senators proposal is the only intelligent way to go. It’s common sense.
“Of course some politician somewhere is sending wienermail to someone right at this moment. It’s common sense to make that assumption.”
So if everything is common sense and common sense is all that is required to do the right thing then what exactly is common sense and why isn’t everybody always doing it all the time?
My grandfather used to say that if common sense was indeed that common than they would’ve come up with a fancier name for it.
I think I figured it out.
I finally know what it means.
Common Sense is a euphemism for “this is what I/we/they would/wouldn’t/ should/shouldn’t do.”
And it’s not at all common.
It is unique and individual to each one of us.
Let me explain.
If common sense was commonly shared and everyone had it then everyone would wash their hands when they visit the wash room. My own observations in public washrooms mirrors the findings of many other highly skilled researchers who have discovered that only 44% of males and 51% of females have common sense.
And clean hands.
If common sense was commonly shared and everyone had it then all smokers would have quit by now.
If common sense was commonly shared and everyone had it then the paparazzi who spend their careers chasing celebrities in the hope of capturing them behaving in a less than intelligent manner, would all be unemployed.
Fortunately for them they all enjoy guaranteed lifetime job security.
Common sense simply means “this is what I believe to be true.” In this context “true” also means possible, necessary, correct, intelligent and a host of other adjectives we draw upon whenever the urge to make a point and illustrate our correctness and smartness overwhelms us.
This is frequently accompanied by the word “should” as in I/you/we/they should …
This is our way of establishing possibility, necessity, correctness, intelligence etc. and often ends with the words “it’s just common sense.”
And the common “senseness” of it is further confirmed by a well rehearsed rolling of the eyes.
It is how we go about saying something that we believe to be true and because we believe it to be true we often present it as a statement of fact – which we believe it to be – rather than what it really is – nothing more than an opinion.
We define ourselves, and are defined by, what we believe to be true. And we commonly delude ourselves into believing that because we believe something to be true, it must be. We believe it’s true therefore it is a fact.
And the fact is that very few of the beliefs we hold to be true are indeed indisputable, irrefutable facts. Generally, they are only opinions.
And not everyone shares our opinions.
And our opinions don’t always make sense to others.
Which means our opinions aren’t that common.
They don’t make sense to everyone.
Which proves that common sense is not always common. And doesn’t always make sense.
So it is helpful to understand there is no such thing as common sense, just common, and opposing opinions.
Mingled with a few – very few – facts.
Surely you get it?
I mean, it’s just common sense.
Till we read again.
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