Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Common Sense ­ Uncommonly Rare

For millennia human beings survived and thrived because they used common sense. Those who didn’t enabled their own removal from the gene pool (they died). Maybe its just me, but it sure seems that the gene pool is getting a wee bit murky these days as whatever has contributed since the dawn of history to common sense is somehow fading away.

The disappearance of common sense from everyday life is a scary thing, if you ask me, because common sense is really the basis for the success of democracy. The founders of the USA were a pretty brilliant bunch, but they didn’t expect that everyone who was going to have a vote was going to be brilliant. In fact, democracy doesn’t require brilliance to succeed; it just needs good old common sense to keep it going and healthy.

The point of voting is to let everyone who is ruled by our government have a say in how that ruling is going to happen. This was a very bold, exciting concept back in the day, and it still is. Our brilliant founders knew that extremists would be moderated by the overwhelming mass of people who didn’t need brilliance or higher education to see the right thing to do. That’s because people then, who had to rely on common sense applied in their daily lives to survive, would apply that same common sense to identifying what was the right thing to do.

Thing is, it doesn’t take common sense any more to make it in our daily lives. With the mass withdrawal from fundamental interaction with nature (growing our own food, building our own houses, being responsible for our own safety) that has resulted from mechanization, technological innovation and the internet, we have lost the need for exercising our common sense. Industrial farming and the importing of so much of our food and other commodities means that fewer and fewer people in this country are connected to the real world. Fed by the fantasy world of TV, movies and video games, spending all day long indoors, has created a gap between what is real and possible, and what is desired - and the gap is growing faster and faster.

Simply put, most people just aren’t practicing the use of common sense any more because they don’t have to. So, like any other faculty that doesn’t get used, common sense is just dying out. Unfortunately, what we’re losing is what is needed to vote in something approaching a rational manner in order to maintain a living, healthy democracy. Without common sense, it all falls apart.

Today, our health, our well being, our communities, our society and our country are all going away so rapidly that it’s hard to see how things can be brought back to equilibrium again. We’re all being fed information that has so little connection to reality that it’s stunning. There is so little common sense being used that sometimes I wonder if we’ve been taken over by alien beings from another dimension. Such irrational behavior isn’t all that surprising, since that’s pretty much what has happened - just substitute media, government and political correctness for alien beings.

Really, coming up with a solution is tough, but it seems to me that a first step would be to return power to the people via local governments, because it’s obvious that locals know best about local issues. This means that locals should be the ones who implement federal and state programs in the places that they’re meant to be implemented. It’s only common sense that locals would do a good job of it ­ as they have throughout history - because they’d be the ones who’d suffer if they screwed up.

You can’t force people to use their common sense, and you can’t expect people to suddenly begin using any faculty when it has become atrophied. Still, things have a way of balancing out over time. I’m hoping people wake up and shake themselves up on their own before too long, though, because as bad as it’s become, those who will be paying for the folly of this and past generations will be our children, their children and beyond. That’s not a legacy I’m happy about leaving for them.


wildwall said...

The industrial and technological ages have corrupted the gene pool!

cred said...

I don't want to go back to the days of typewriters!

You've got a point. I think the problem is one of entropy: No energy put into use of brain and the brain functions just wind down. Both industry and technology have given rise to lazy thinking, since times (for most people) aren't dangerous or hard enough on daily basis to put your life at risk if you screw up any more.

I mean, if your tomato plants don't produce, you can just go to the store and buy tomatoes - you won’t starve to death.

I believe this gives rise to a kind of atrophy of the brain, or at least of the intellect, that results in people just not connecting with reality any more.