You can obtain a degree in just about anything you want, here in America. And if you don’t want to spend a lot of money and time in college, you can get a certificate in your area of interest. And if that’s too hard, you can go after continuing education credits. Medicine, electronics, law, horticulture, advertising, accounting — you name it; someone will hand you a piece of paper with your name in fancy ink surrounded by Latin phrases. We are living in a land of education, but answer me this: Why can’t you find any training in common sense?
What if we lived in a world where men and women graduated Summa Cum Laude in Common Sense? “Here’s Mr. Barton, who excelled in Spotting Cons, Avoiding Scams, and Thinking Logically. And this degree goes to Ms. Lumpkin who was at the top of the class in Dating, Borrowing, and Gambling Myths.” Common sense is so rare; wouldn’t it be logical to teach it? “Hogwash! You can’t teach common sense! That’s why it’s common! You either got it, or you ain’t!” And to that I say that we’d all still be in dirty diapers if someone hadn’t taught us about the alternative. Yes you can teach common sense. But no one does. I don’t know of a career academy that teaches it; I don’t know of a college offering a BA in Wisdom; I don’t even see ads for “Night school courses in common sense.” It’s a lost art, if it was ever found to begin with.
If more people were trained in common sense, we’d see fewer long lines at the convenience stores where folks are planning their retirement, one lottery scratch-off at a time. Common sense would tell them that their statistical odds of winning $150 million are so low they’d be better off at a wishing well. Common sense would make folks pull their pants up. Common sense would stop 90 percent of email traffic. Imagine a world where you didn’t have to read idiotic statements like, “This is the only month that has five Saturdays! This won’t happen again for another 6,563 years!”
Common sense would suggest looking at a calendar before pressing the forward-email button. Common sense would shut people up more often. I wouldn’t have to listen to profanity as I dine at restaurants. I also wouldn’t have to hear folks describe how to field-dress a hog while I’m eating. Common sense would say that some topics aren’t appropriate in public settings, especially when people are eating tacos and rice.
We teach our kids all kinds of things, and that’s great. But why do we assume they’ll learn common sense on their own? What if we said, “Oh, heck. Jimmy will pick up math and English and science somewhere along the way. Don’t waste time teaching it to him.” But we leave common sense to the streets and to osmosis. And look at what we’ve received in return. We have a gullible population that does the inappropriate at the wrong time to achieve an irrelevant outcome. What if we started teaching common sense? Where would it lead? Maybe we’d see politicians sporting advanced degrees in Common Sense, Reason, and Wisdom. I’d much rather vote for that kind of representative instead of electing one more so-called law scholar and political science major. But I’m not holding my breath. Common sense isn’t a hot ticket, but I sure wish it was. I’d sign up for a few courses myself, if I could just get my foreign friend to send me my share of that $20 million he promised for my assistance with his banking needs. Poor fellow, just lost his father in a military coup, right before he could take a big chest full of gold to the bank.
David McCoy is a lifetime resident of “The Glorious South” and a repeat winner of the Georgia Press Association’s Joe Parham Trophy for his humor column, Pecan Pie for the Mind. David lives in Covington, Georgia but can often be found among the North Georgia mountains, depending on the weather and the availability of clean towels and fresh, hot coffee. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.