Common Sense: sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts.
My original plan to celebrate Common Sense Day was to write an article listing all the ways the Trudeau government has used its common sense to better the lives of all Canadians.
Key Word: ALL.
Then I recognized the fact Trudeau government doesn’t much care about all Canadians; that it only cares deeply for a select few well-connected Canadians, as evidenced by the litany of scandals flowing out of the Prime Minister’s Office pretty much since Justin Trudeau was first elected in October 2015.
So instead, I drafted a short list of ways to enhance your own common sense so you can better discern when our elected officials and unelected government mandarins have utterly lost the ability to use theirs.
1. Read Thomas Paine’s 1776 pamphlet on government, titled Common Sense.
This will take you approximately 90 minutes, at most, and is worth every precious second. A few lines to whet your appetite for this timeless classic are below.
“In the following pages I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense: and have no other preliminaries to settle with the reader, than that he will divest himself of prejudice and prepossession, and suffer his reason and his feelings to determine for themselves: that he will put on, or rather that he will not put off, the true character of a man, and generously enlarge his views beyond the present day.”
“Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices.”
“Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one: for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a Government, which we might expect in a country without Government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.”
2. Dare to challenge your most deeply held convictions, even when it makes you uncomfortable.
Cognitive Dissonance is the mental conflict we suffer when our behaviours and beliefs do not align or when we hold two contradictory beliefs at the same time.
Frantz Fanon, a psychiatrist and political philosopher from the French colony of Martinique, put it this way:
“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.”
Cognitive Dissonance causes intense and immediate feelings of discomfort and unease, such as feelings of anxiety, guilt and shame.
Cognitive Dissonance significantly affects our behaviors, thoughts, decisions, beliefs, attitudes and our mental health.
Since another of our core needs is to avoid discomfort at almost any cost, those suffering from cognitive dissonance will often:
- try to hide their actions or beliefs from others
- rationalize their actions or choices continuously
- shy away from conversations or debates about specific topics
- avoid learning new information that goes against their existing beliefs
- ignore research, newspaper articles, or doctor’s advice that causes the dissonance
3. Never ever accept a politician’s words at face value – no matter your political preference.
Politicians will lie, obfuscate and contort logic into a pretzel of their own liking to convince you to buy the swill they’re selling.
This is true of every politician in every political party across the political spectrum, without exception.
4. Spend three minutes to research the facts behind any newspaper headline or Ministerial edict before parroting them as Gospel.
Google can deliver almost any piece of source information to you instantly, yet far too many of our fellow citizens believe a headline is the story, be it on Twitter, Facebook or your favourite newspaper.
A headline is NOT the story.
A headline’s only purpose is to entice you, dear reader, to read the article.
5. GroupThink is cowardice personified, not intelligence. Avoid it at all costs.
Groups do not possess intelligence, individual people do. Unfortunately, too many folks park their intelligence the moment they join a group because our basic human need to belong outweighs almost everything else – including common sense.
At its extreme, GroupThink is the mob who destroyed downtown Vancouver after the Canucks lost Game 5 of the Stanley Cup. It’s the mobs burning down large swaths of American cities or beating people for daring to wear a MAGA hat.
At the less extreme end is the person who walks past one human abusing another, be it physically, verbally or emotionally, without lifting a finger to help.
Separate individuals from the group wreaking this havoc upon their communities and their neighbours and, with extraordinarily rare exceptions, those individuals would never condone those actions, let alone participate in them.
We passively condone such abuse when we pretend it doesn’t exist.
The Lemming mentality (everyone is doing it so I should too) is all around us, and it’s far too easy to slip into this mindset if we’re not careful.
If you have a way to help bring about a revival in Common Sense, please share it in the comments section below.
Happy Common Sense Day!
Bravo Chris. Perhaps your best yet. Thank you.
Christopher di Armani says
Thank you, Don.
There is one interesting parallel between Canada and the United States. We had the repugnant Peter MacKay who has finally graced us with his promise not to run again whose argument was since he was ahead the vote should be immediate. In the US they have Trump whose argument is that he is ahead so they should stop counting ballots.
peter bolten says
perhaps the biggest common sense failure here is why does Melania Trump remain married to this guy?
John Doe says
Perhaps because she is extremely intelligent and beautiful, and he is dynamic, intelligent, successful, boundless energy, possesses many topnotch skills, scrupulously honest, well liked by his employees …. want more logical reasons??
peter bolten says
Cognitive Dissonance [ or disowning one’s cognitive potential ]….the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.
A form of not having common sense I suppose, i.e. gee why does that person in our quiet neighborhood step on the gas pedal and speed the last 300 feet to her house sailing around the corner and causing children and pet owners to scatter and cower in nervous fear… all the while unable to learn from the gentle thoughtful peers around her? Oh , did I see her/him fumbling with a pack of cigarettes and a cellphone too?
[insert a big noncompute-frowning emoti here.]
Arie Intveld says
A fine example of cognitive dissonance is right now being showcased here in these comments regarding Trump, his wife and the current US presidential election DAY that is now turning out to be the US presidential election MONTH OR TWO OR THREE. Cognitive dissonance is at the root of the “Orange Man Bad” cult. Why would any Canadian even allow another country’s leader to live in their head, and rent free? Our media has now been tasked with extolling what mindset represents “common sense” or “good” and what needs to be considered utter rubbish or “evil”. Cognitive dissonance is the product of the relentless attack on one’s own belief system. And media is the vehicle for this psychological attack. It has a name. P-R-O-P-A-G-A-N-D-A.
And speaking of media (plus unidentified health/epidemiology/science experts), never conflate professed academic achievement, credentials and celebrity with intelligence, integrity and a functioning moral compass.
Common sense, today, is a commodity in extremely short supply. Group-think (aka woke culture) has supplanted common sense. Common sense is now mostly found in those backwards Luddites who work to earn their keep, who take personal responsibility, who believe that you get out what you put in, who pray, who value human life and the human soul, who value God-given rights and freedoms, who value the nuclear family, and who can balance one’s family cheque book.
In short, you will not find a shred of “common sense” in a socialist or anyone advocating for having the State take care of your entire life. All previous and current experiments with socialism have proven to be abject failures with genocidal levels of loss of human life.
Those who forfeit their freedom for safety deserve neither.
Beautiful, Arie…. so eloquently and honestly put.
“Capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings and socialism is the equal sharing of misery.” Winston Churchill.
Or as Margaret Thatcher put it:
“The trouble with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”
It only took ten years for Venezuela to descend from the richest South American country to the most destitute and they are running out of rats to eat.
Mr. Casull says
What you’ve so effectively discussed here, Mr. di Armani, can be distilled down to and encapsulated in one word and idea–wisdom. The problem with wisdom is that for many and perhaps even most of us, it takes four or five decades of living and working in the real world to acquire any degree of it, if we acquire any at all. Sadly, it seems that many of our fellow citizens fit into this latter category, and remain bereft of wisdom their entire lives.
Thank you for the work that you do. Individuals like you and fellow British Columbian Michael Campbell are rare and widely dispersed candles glowing brilliantly and illuminating an otherwise dark media landscape.
Christopher di Armani says
Thank you for your kind words, Mr. Casull. They are greatly appreciated.