The Death of Common Sense

Dave Griffey at Daffey Thoughts notes that one of the things that ails this nation is a dearth of common sense.  My sainted parents, who had a lot of that commodity, often told me and my brother that fancy words were never a substitute for “horse sense”:


We don’t.  Common sense is nowhere to be seen, and it’s been gone for quite awhile.  Exhibit A.  When suicide among teens, along with drug use, depression and other mental illness is sweeping like a pandemic across America, some towns are taking evasive action.  They’re banning teenagers from going out Trick or Treating.

WTF?  So kids going back and enjoying a little nostalgia, harmless fun and socializing without smartphones is a threat.  Nope.  Better they stay home on their smartphones, looking at porn, taking drugs, having sex, or just dying. 

This has been going on for decades, BTW.  When I was young you began having neighborhoods take down basketball hoops because they were eyesores, or closing up open lots to keep kids from hanging around and doing things like play baseball or kickball. 

This is what comes from people who have college educations and yet forget that intelligence gleaned from academics is only one part of what we call smart. 

But then, common sense says things like abstinence is a valid option for avoiding AIDS, there is such a thing as boys and girls, sex and childbirth are more than coincidentally related, and Socialism has failed miserably every time it’s been tried.  It also teaches such things as ‘don’t support destruction of due process since it might come back to haunt you.’ 

We certainly can’t have that kind of thinking, so we settle for plowing into our current social problems among teens by taking the bold step of hauling kids dressed like ghosts or superheroes to jail for not staying home on their smartphones where they belong.  Dumb nation.  Our kids don’t deserve what they are going to get as a result of the last several generations of idiot adults.

Go here to comment.  One good thing about common sense, as traditionally understood, is it generally saves us from making fools of ourselves as we follow the intellectual fads and prejudices of the day.  There is no idea, no matter how false and cruel, that will not have ardent advocates in academia, the media, entertainment and government.  I lived through the day-school sex abuse hysteria of the eighties and the early 90s, and I recall the mantras of “children never lie about abuse”,  and other manifest absurdities that were accepted solemnly as innocents had their lives destroyed.  The Salem Witch trials are ritually condemned in our history books, even as in each generation some of our “best and brightest” replicate the classic formula of hysteria plus nonsense “evidence” plus innocent scapegoats.  I thank my parents for the skeptical common sense view of the world they bequeathed to me.

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  1. Washington, DC is a place where ideology rules and common sense has no place. Of course, this can be found in every large American city but in no place is it like DC. That so many people buy into failed isms and ideologies is amazing to me.
    The Visegrad 4 nations have the most common sense on Earth.

  2. I’m reading the ABC News piece David links differently. The problem isn’t a lack of common sense (which there surely is) it’s an overall unwillingness of adults to act like adults. That is, instead of telling the 16 year old to “beat it” when they come ringing the door-bell on Holloween, we get the town fathers to pass a law so we don’t have to take responsibility. It’s kind of like zero tolerance policies taken to extreme (and zero-tolerance policies are really about protecting administrators from having to be responsible for making, you know, decisions, like we pay them for).

    I don’t know. Maybe I’m off base. I really don’t like trick-or-treating teenagers. You want candy? You’re old enough to make your own money and go buy it yourself. I also really don’t like the way Halloween is less and less a kids holiday. teenagers can’t go trick or treating because the adults are too busy with their own hollowing parties. Arrested adolescence. Maybe that’s the tie to the dearth of common sense.

  3. A little bit of both, I think @Ernst Schreiber.

    In a more sane time, the teens would be dressed up so they could take their younger siblings around door to door and it would be a bonding experience for all. If you don’t have a sibling, maybe find a kid who needs a big brother or sister and adopt them for a night.

    I dunno. It just bugs me. Seems like once upon a time we’d work out and solve problems within the community with elegant solutions that would be edifying for all. Now we just go running off and make a law. No wonder we’re losing out freedoms.

  4. Nate, that’s what I thought. As I’ve said, when our youngest was born (I call him our little Catholic gift) shortly after we became Catholic, he was nine years younger than our next youngest boy. I told the three older boys when we heard the news that I didn’t want the older three to be the party that the youngest missed. So they’ve done a stellar job including him in on things, and even doing things just for him. One thing they did up until recently (owing to college, jobs and moving on and such) was to dress up and go trick or treating with him, if just for a block or two, so he would feel included with his older brothers. According to laws like this, of course, they would not be allowed. As I said, it’s not anything new, but this lack of common sense seems to be more prevalent nowadays across the board.

  5. I like old customs, like Hallowe’en.

    I know a place in the Western Isles of Scotland, where corn dollies are still, occasionally, hung from trees, usually near a spring or pool. I suspect, too, that the saucers of milk they put out at night are not always for the cat.

    On a winter’s evening, one can still hear old tales told in village pubs of the fairies or “Little People”; tales of bewitchings, changelings and murrain in the flocks. And I have heard such tales interrupted, by those who consider any mention of “na Sithein” as unchancy.

    On Hallowe’en, Hallow fires are still lit and“samhnag” or lighted lanterns, often hollowed-out neeps (turnips) put in windows and over the doors of byres and granaries. No one ventures out, so no trick or treating there.

  6. Jack’s soul lights the pumpkin or turnip, there, rather then hell. Tales of heads being kicked down the forest path by their owners and ghost spirits trying to enter into the closed windows and doors, Little children afraid to peek out from under the sheets. It must be Halloween.
    Darby O’Gill and the Little People by Disney, starring Sean Connery is a lovely story about how the Little People got to Ireland. fascinating.

  7. In town one of the best parts of Halloween was creating the costume, the decorations, and carving a jack o’ lantern ( still carving one now for my own pleasure), cider and donuts. Candy is the least of it. No candy without saying, “Trick or treat!” A Thank you is nice to hear. Some costumes are particularly clever. I always pretend not to recognize the kids’ identity and find something about each child’s outfit to praise.
    Handing out candy, my neighbor is dracula and I’m a witch. A dad on the block each year creates a spooky tableau with fog machine, screeching recordings, and life sized scare crows or draculas. Usually one of them comes to life (it’s the dad) and startles the trick or treaters. Its just harmless fun. Teens in costume escort their siblings then head out to a party.
    Now in the farming community the churches sponsor Trunk n Treat. Hot dogs and cider inside then outside where the adults (some in costumes or masks) have decorated their van/pickup trunks n pass out candy. Costumes can only be of saints which limits creativity, but it’s a nice event for all.

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