That was Will Rogers’ down-home take on an observation by Voltaire. Well, Voltaire died in 1778 and Will Rogers died in 1935 and it appears things haven’t improved much. If you’re like me, you often turn off the TV, shake your head and think, “Our society has lost its collective mind!”
But are we really talking about common sense here? When we see someone behave in a way that appears illogical to us, we have to keep in mind that their decisions may seem perfectly logical to them because they are acting on a different set of rules than we are. That’s the problem with the concept of common sense – there is some unavoidable degree of subjectivity to it. That’s why René Descartes said, “Common sense is the most widely shared commodity in the world, for every man is convinced that he is well supplied with it.”
What standards are we using? The reason many of us get the feeling daily that American culture has “gone off the deep end” is because secular progressives are, to a large extent, shaping the narrative. Whenever one segment of society is striving to allow God to define the rules and others are proudly ignoring His direction, the two camps will, unavoidably, drift worlds apart in a short amount of time.
Paul described what inevitably happens when folks choose not “to acknowledge God any longer” in Romans 1:18-32. Speaking of the pagans of his day, he said that, “Professing to be wise, they became fools.” Harriet Beecher Stowe once said, “Common sense is seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be.” Now that’s a definition I can live with, but it is critical that we first see things as they truly are.
Wisdom from above: James 3 offers a contrast between worldly wisdom and a wisdom that has come to us from above. Paul talked about the humility necessary to accept the wisdom that God has to offer (1 Cor. 3:18-20). He said, ‘The Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are useless.’” It takes a humble person to sincerely acknowledge that “a man’s way is not in himself, nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23).
I will continue to marvel at the prevalent lack of common sense as I turn off the nightly news, but I will find a little comfort in the fact that Will Rogers and Voltaire and the apostle Paul all felt the same frustration. Of course the task at hand is to continue to work to convince each that I encounter that what any person thinks is of no consequence. All that matters is what God says. We must all be less concerned about common sense and search for divine sense.
Editor’s Note: Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of the Murray Ledger & Times.