The Death of Common Sense and De-Evolution

The following is a beautifully written piece by Lori Bergman that was first published in the Indianapolis Star on May 15, 1998:

“Three yards of black fabric enshroud my computer terminal. I am mourning the passing of an old friend by the name of Common Sense.

His obituary reads as follows:

Common Sense, aka C.S., lived a long life, but died from heart failure at the brink of the millennium. No one really knows how old he was, his birth records were long ago entangled in miles and miles of bureaucratic red tape.
Known affectionately to close friends as Horse Sense and Sound Thinking, he selflessly devoted himself to a life of service in homes, schools, hospitals and offices, helping folks get jobs done without a lot of fanfare, whooping and hollering. Rules and regulations and petty, frivolous lawsuits held no power over C.S.

A most reliable sage, he was credited with cultivating the ability to know when to come in out of the rain, the discovery that the early bird gets the worm and how to take the bitter with the sweet. C.S. also developed sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you earn), reliable parenting strategies (the adult is in charge, not the kid) and prudent dietary plans (offset eggs and bacon with a little fiber and orange juice).

A veteran of the Industrial Revolution, the Great Depression, the Technological Revolution and the Smoking Crusades, C.S. survived sundry cultural and educational trends including disco, the men’s movement, body piercing, whole language and new math.

C.S.’s health began declining in the late 1960s when he became infected with the If-It-Feels-Good, Do-It virus. In the following decades his waning strength proved no match for the ravages of overbearing federal and state rules and regulations and an oppressive tax code. C.S. was sapped of strength and the will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband, criminals received better treatment than victims and judges stuck their noses in everything from Boy Scouts to professional baseball and golf. His deterioration accelerated as schools implemented zero-tolerance policies. Reports of 6-year-old boys charged with sexual harassment for kissing classmates, a teen suspended for taking a swig of Scope mouthwash after lunch, girls suspended for possessing Midol and an honor student expelled for having a table knife in her school lunch were more than his heart could endure.

As the end neared, doctors say C.S. drifted in and out of logic but was kept informed of developments regarding regulations on low-flow toilets and mandatory air bags. Finally, upon hearing about a government plan to ban inhalers from 14 million asthmatics due to a trace of a pollutant that may be harmful to the environment, C.S. breathed his last. Services will be at Whispering Pines Cemetery. C.S. was preceded in death by his wife, Discretion; one daughter, Responsibility; and one son, Reason. He is survived by two step-brothers, Half-Wit and Dim-Wit.

Memorial Contributions may be sent to the Institute for Rational Thought.

Farewell, Common Sense. May you rest in peace.”

The essay in it’s original format is here, and her website is here.

I can put it in no better way. I find the death of poor Mr. Common Sense to be one of the most profound tragedies in the history of time. It is now a running joke that the world lacks common sense, however a part of my soul dies every time it’s mentioned.

We argue about things we shouldn’t argue about, and we sweep under the rug the most pressing of issues. We allow religious doctrines to rule our lives instead of informing them, which is their original intention; and if not religious doctrines, it’s the media that rules us. We ignore basic rules of language and allow shortcuts and cheats. We fail to give credit where credit is due. We put unnatural, artificial garbage into out bodies on a regular basis, yet we have made what is natural either inexorably expensive, or illegal. We deny other human beings basic human rights while overindulging in most unnecessary items. Most of all, we ignore what is right and what makes sense.

I could go on, but I will spare you. I’d like to recommend a movie that may drive the point home, if the wonderful essay above somehow has not. For all of the pointless movies that have been produced in recent decades, this one hit me on a visceral level very unexpectedly. It’s Idiocracy, and I was absolutely expecting it to be as stupid as it looked. Whenever I experience the kind of gut reaction I felt with this movie I’m usually reading a book (as much as I enjoy the physical acting out of a story, I can’t get quite as deep as when I’m reading – the pictures I create in my own mind are better, at least to me). However, seeing the characters, hearing the characters in this inherently dimwitted movie made me feel physically ill. It’s inevitable. Completely inevitable.

It’s reverse Darwinism. Instead of evolving into beings of higher intelligence, of higher physicality as we have in the past, we’re going backwards. The death of dear old Mister Common Sense is just one of the significant events that has started the rewind of the evolution of the human race. Watch the movie – it’s about an average guy who was frozen and awoke many years later to a time that was ruled by advertising, and a language that is a mixture of grunts and slang. A man who, in his own time, was considered to be of average intelligence is now the smartest man on Earth. In a series of wacky and weird events, he becomes President of the United States and tries to re-inject Common Sense to the world. The movie is meant to appeal to the preteen rebel masses, but it is absolutely a direction in which the world is heading.

Literally as I write this I’m watching a story about people getting in a twist about a new J. Crew ad. It has a “controversial” picture of a mother and her 5 year-old son laughing at his toe nails, which are pained neon pink. They’re calling it an affront to manhood. They’re calling it inappropriate. They’re calling up gender stereotypes. These are the kind of stories that curl my hair and make me gnash my teeth. Why are we talking about this? It’s a mother (the creative director of J. Crew I believe) having fun with her son – what you’re suppose to do with a child. Why do we care about toe nail polish? Why are we taking the time to create headlines about this? I’m certain Mister Common Sense is rolling in his grave, wishing people would stop, stop over-thinking such things that are no more than good old fashioned fun. The report was done by Fox News (I know, I know, but I chose it simply because it’s such an outrageous thing to be worried about in the first place). Apparently, according to some, the ad is

“Blatant propaganda celebrating transgendered children.”

Pardon me, but this kid is 5. I highly doubt he can even conceive what “transgender” means; he probably still thinks girls have cooties. Can we just let kids be kids? Please? If that’s too hard to ask, let me know and I’ll shut my mouth. I realize even talking about it brings unnecessary attention to something that shouldn’t be receiving it in the first place, but if I don’t get this out of my brain the monkeys in my brain will start planning a hostile takeover.

The world is a sublime place, but it’s stories like this that make me want to live without watching the news or interacting with other people. It’s because of stories like this that whenever a new “illness fad” comes around I become the biggest cheerleader. Swine flu, bird flu, or anything else that could wipe out those too harebrained to wash their hands every now and again. I feel absolutely zero remorse for people who don’t take care of themselves. I just hope they don’t have the occasion to procreate before they pass on.


©  Of Popular Rhetoric, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Of Popular Rhetoric with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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