“Remember,” she said, “how we talked about common sense?” She peered at the young, eager listeners, squirming around on the rug like a batch of hot worms. “If you see a puddle of water, are you going to jump in it?”
“Noooo,” chorused the class.
“Good,” she said, “because that wouldn’t be common sense.”
Common sense. A priceless commodity, I thought, sitting there in the first-grade room, that couldn’t be ordered by law. Common sense meant respect. Meant wisdom, clear thinking. Meant sound judgment and making wise choices.
When citizens exercised common sense in their ordinary, everyday lives, they took responsibility for themselves and their families. This, in turn, meant that there was far less of a mess for others to clean up later. Like the government.
A person, for instance, who used wisdom and common sense would know that spending more than one made would lead to disaster. Thus, he or she would apply sound principles in their finances.
People of common sense didn’t live life as victims or opportunists, litigating over things like hot coffee spilled in the lap. In big and small matters, they weighed the consequences of their actions and chose accordingly. In other words, when a “puddle” presented itself, they thought twice before jumping.
Yes, common sense could keep a person from a lot of mud and mess, and government could never decree it. It had to be learned. Had to be taught, and that’s what was happening at school.
There was something else that couldn’t be legislated, I thought that day, and that was morality, or righteousness. This was a matter of the heart, and there wasn’t a king or a ruler who could mandate that.
They could not mandate it, but they could model it. They could choose it for themselves, and they could lead that way.