I Confess: Common Sense Is Common

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Common sense:  good sense and sound judgment in practical matters.

I had a completely different topic planned out in my head this week. But then I got into a debate with my husband over the concept of common sense. 

I argued that with the exception of people born with or have developed special needs (i.e., mental or emotional challenges), everyone has God-given common sense.

He said common sense ain’t common. I said it is.

When I was a kid, I made questionable decisions.  My mother’s response was “common sense should have told you to…….”

I thought common sense was a person. And I was even more bothered by the fact that this mysterious person never gave me the message.

As I grew older, I realized that she was holding me accountable for the decisions I made.

And that’s my argument.

Too often we say “common sense ain’t common”. The problem with this statement is that it gives power to ignorance. Saying common sense ain’t common gives folks a pass on their foolishness.

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No, common sense is common. You just have to use it!

In 1961, Stanley Milgram, a professor at Yale University, conducted a study that focused on the conflict between obedience to authority and personal conscience. In other words, how far will a person go to obey authority when common sense should tell them that what they are being asked to do is unethical and wrong?

In this study, volunteers were instructed to give electric shocks to another human being after he answered a question incorrectly. Because the person who gave the orders wore a lab coat, he was viewed as an authoritative figure. Therefore, no matter how much the person cried out in pain, the volunteer continued to increase the voltages.

Now, of course everyone but the volunteer was aware that this exercise was an assimilation. No one was hurt during the study.  But the volunteer believed this exercise was real and willingly obeyed his orders to inflict pain on another man.

I use the Milgram study as an example of how we are conditioned to give all of our God-given sense to someone other than ourselves. There is no way you should be willing to shock a person just because someone in a lab coat told you to.

This type of behavior is taught, and not a natural instinct.

We have to be careful of what we say in front of our children. It is imperative that they learn to use and exhibit the common sense God has given them.

Now, I will admit, some of us seem to have it more than others. However, I would also challenge anyone to consider the trauma, miseducation, and misdirection that a person may have encountered throughout their lives before we assume that they lack common sense.

We have to stop assuming that our children’s teachers know more than we do.

We have to stop believing that we need more experience or education to follow our dreams.

We have to stop looking for guidance in everyone other than ourselves.

If you can function well enough to read this blog, you have common sense.

Use it, and encourage others to use theirs. Don’t let anyone off the hook. Common sense is still common, we just have to bring it back.

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Dr. Lauren Meeks


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