Let us gather here today to mourn the loss of one of humankind's greatest gifts, which has guided us through some of our darkest hours—simple common sense—whose loss has significant and increasing consequences on our society.
I think, being honest, that we are all complicit in its loss by increasingly ignoring its value and doing little or nothing to come to its aid when under attack. However, politicians are at the vanguard of the assault.
Though Michele Bachmann, that great humanitarian and scholar, has blessedly departed from the spotlight, who can possibly forget her single-handed war on the most elemental forms of logic or common sense? She tells us that a trip President Obama (a.k.a to Republicans as "the Antichrist") made to Japan cost taxpayers $200,000,000 a day; that he took along an entourage of 2,000 people, who stayed in 735 luxury 5-star hotel rooms (at least that comes out to nearly three people per room—a sure sign of frugality ignored by Ms. Bachmann). She also told us, with the deep sincerity and profundity for which she is known, that our founding fathers worked tirelessly (this is in 1776, mind) until slavery was eradicated from the land. And the protest against her utterly egregious nonsense was a deafening silence.
But her exit from the political stage merely opened the door for the likes of Donald Trump, who no longer feels it even necessary to even mention common sense. He boasts of huge plans…HUGE!…to “make America great again” without bothering to give a single example of how this would be accomplished, and we all “oooooh” and “aaaaaah” and cheer in response.
Are Trump and the other embarrassingly self-serving candidates laughed off the stage and forbidden to play with sharp objects? No, they are running for the office of President of the United States, and their every vacuous word is greeted with applause and knowing nods of total agreement by their followers.
As our society becomes more and more ruled by technology—the workings of which are unintelligible to the average human—we feel, correctly, that we have less and less control over our own destinies. As even trying to figure out how and why things and institutions work the way they do becomes increasingly more difficult, more and more people are throwing up their hands in frustration and saying to self-proclaimed pundits, "Okay, you tell me what to think," and those pundits, whose motivations are based far more on greed for power than altruism, are more than happy to oblige.
That old saying, “For want of a nail, the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe, the horse was lost,…” is as true today as ever; maybe even more so. And with every patently false and misleading statement issued, another nail is pounded into the coffin of common sense.
Can this trend be reversed? Possibly, but I fear it would require more time and effort than most people are willing to devote to it—there’s a football game on tonight, after all, and priorities are priorities.
But just because we've tossed common sense into the back of a sock drawer doesn't mean we can't take it out and start using it again. First, we must all realize that just because something is said on TV or read in a forwarded email or seen on Facebook does not make it true. As someone once said, if ten million people believe a lie, it is still a lie. Before passing something on a gospel is to ask the simplest of simple questions: "Does this really make any sense?" President Obama plans to give every illegal immigrant $400,000 a month, free health care, a new house, and a new car? Forget that even if he wanted to he could not get it passed through a congress which, if he said the sun was shining, would run for their umbrellas. Hey, a friend sent me an email of an article he saw in some magazine, so it must be true. Muslims use a melon scoop to remove the brains of Christian babies? They said so on Fox News, so it has to be true.
Politics, of course, is not the only thing lacking the nail of common sense. Internet spam is obviously unaware of its existence. After railing against Spam endlessly, I still cannot comprehend it, let alone how any rational human being could ever, under any circumstances, believe a word of it.
Television commercials—and especially infomercials and those ads aired late at night—depend on the lack of the nail of the viewer's common sense.
Instances of the effects of the loss of these nails are endless, and to point to them all is like standing in the back yard at night pointing up at the stars.
But the nail's not lost; we can find it and use it. All we have to do is try.
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