Is Common Sense Lost Or Is It Just Uncommon


I, like many Americans, use the phrase “Common Sense.” In this day and age, it seems the older generations of men and women still possess common sense; and yet it seems to be lost or vanishing from our society.

Is it lost or is it just that it is seldom used anymore? To answer this, it would be smart (or common sense) to define what common sense really is, to Americans, and to determine how could it be lost, or if not lost, why it isn’t used more frequently

One of the great minds in America was Ralph Waldo Emerson. He gave his opinion of what common sense is to Americans.

“One thing is plain for all men of common sense and common conscience, that here, here in America, is the home of man. After all the deductions which are to be made for our pitiful politics, which stake every gravest national question on the silly die, whether James or whether Jonathan shall sit in the chair and hold the purse; after all the deduction is made for our frivolities and insanities, there still remains an organic simplicity and liberty, which, when it loses its balance, redresses itself presently, which offers opportunity to the human mind not known in any other region.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Now we see one opinion of common sense and other definitions are also American definitions. Common sense can be understood to mean, street smarts, foresight, practical judgment, insight, astute observance, clear-headedness, gray matter, practicality, caution, precaution, level-headedness, logical thinking, shrewdness, and the list goes on and on.

If there is a question about common sense it might be asked like this: what is it anyway? Growing up in the western states, I developed a little knowledge about common sense. One think I know is that it can’t be learned from any book, nor can it be bought.

Asking A Wise Man

It’s not a subject one can learn in school, nor can anyone teach it. I asked my grandfather, when I was about 10 years old; what is common sense grandpa?

He looked at me for a few minutes and after sucking on his cigar, and looking into the sky, he told me this explanation.

“Common sense is to know when to be quiet, when to Say No, when to leave, and when to get off the horse and walk.” I thought about that for a few days and the next time we were alone together again I asked him this question.

“Who gives a person common sense?” He again looked up into the sky leaned back and said, “no one son, no one can give a person common sense. You get it by knowing who you are and where you stand in life compared to others.”

“It comes with lots of hurt and pain, sorrow and joy and lots of hard work. It comes by observing others and understanding people and why they do dumb things and learn how to avoid mistakes. Develop your craft or profession and watch others, especially the really good ones and it will come slowly – but it will come.”

What I learned

What I learned in those precious days has helped me throughout life and I try to keep the following suggestions.

Observe, learn to ask smart questions, watch how life kicks people in the butt and who gets up after the fall.

Think before you speak and especially learn to look ahead to see where the problems might rise up and hurt you. If you meet a person who wants to fight, don’t fight on his terms.

Fighting is an art and if you want to fight, learn how from the best fighters. Fighting comes in many ways, in business over money, arguments, don’t argue, or who is going to be the boss, bullies are a dime a dozen. Don’t get into a fight you can’t win. That is common sense. Avoid war unless there is no other way. Keep a cool head and learn to be patient, with others and with yourself.

I have discovered God gives us our weaknesses; He will help us overcome anything that hinders our progress if we stay humble, patient, and care for others. Keep an eye on the horizon and watch for storms.

They can be business storms or physical weather storms or family problems, but always keep the eye focused on your life, and walk slowly but steady, and remain faithful to those with whom you make covenants.

Never be so proud that you cannot pray. There has never been a thought, or problem, or circumstance that hasn’t happened somewhere or some time before. Pray with sincerity and clarity having faith and doubt not, He will answer.

Be steadfast, walk in humility and listen to your mind, heart, and instincts, then act with faith. The intelligent man is the one who doesn’t know everything but knows how to find the answer.

“As you believe so shall it be done.”

Television Does The Thinking For Many People

Why isn’t it (common sense) used more in this 21st century? Well, it requires people to think, and television does the thinking for most people. Reading of great books causes one to think, and fewer books are being read in this day and age.

It is lost because maybe people don’t like to think, thinking requires one to know for ones self if something is right or wrong. I’m not sure people want the truth.

God gives common sense to those who are good honest people and enlightens them with knowledge. It is hard for a person who is into drugs, alcohol, and self gratification, to be enlightened by anything. They wouldn’t be doing those things if they had or used common sense.

Never cheat, don’t tell lies, and be honest with yourself and others. This is common sense. Can you buy it? Can you learn it? How can you obtain it? Experience my friends, Experience and trying to do what is right, not what is wrong.

Back To My Question

So is common sense lost, or is it just uncommon? I hope it isn’t lost. It is in evidence now and then, and not just in older Americans – sometimes in youth as well, but it definitely doesn’t seem to be as common as it used to be. I am hopeful that there will be enough people with the insight and ability to keep it going forever.

Robert D. Ashford was a Marine during the cold war and is now retired, after 50 years of construction management. He is a keen genealogist and loves humor. He watches the political horizons and likes to write commentary on what’s next.