We’ve often heard the following advice from our Victorian State Premier, ‘Commonsense is what should guide everybody’. It’s made me ask these questions: Is that always the only approach in every situation? Can everyone use gumption well? And do we usually possess all the information to help us make a wise decision?
I found a few definitions. One applies to my first question. ‘Common sense is the ability to see beyond the rules and apply intelligence to a situation. It might be about knowing when to break rules for the purpose of complying with more important outcomes’. We’ve been told to ‘stay home’ during this lockdown, but in an emergency, like the storm that hit various suburbs here last week, people can choose to leave home to get help. In a compassionate society, that’s common sense!
During our overnight curfew, a man told the roadblock police that he was ‘taking rice to his children’. Maybe the $12,000 cash, or the illegal drugs in his car, are now called ‘rice’? That answers my second query, and fits this definition: ‘Commonsense is developed by being more aware, and reflecting on situations before making a decision’. Surely he knew he’d be caught in the quiet streets in the middle of the night. No commonsense.
Another is, ‘Commonsense is based on human compassion and respect for yourself and others.’ It reminds me of a young autistic man I heard talking about interaction between neurotypicals and people who have Aspergers Syndrome. He said, ‘Just be kind’. How wise. That’s also in the list of fruit that the apostle Paul said the Holy Spirit will give to us (Galatians 5: 22).
The Premier’s statement was made in the context of Victorians deciding how to obey the rules that the government had put in place to protect us all from the spread of the coronavirus. He cited the couple who made a 200-kilometre round-trip to ‘do exercise’, instead of staying closer to home, as instructed. People like them had caused us all to be limited to exercising only in a five-kilometre range from our homes. Did they think about the consequences of their actions? No commonsense.
I remember my father helping me with my maths homework. He wasn’t well-educated, but he was clever. He couldn’t understand why the teachers wouldn’t accept the ‘obvious short-cut’ he’d taught me, unless I’d shown how I’d arrived at the answer. He was a man full of common sense; what teachers might consider cheating never appealed to him.
A while ago, our grandson was struggling with a face mask, until he discovered he was eligible for an exemption. A permit from his doctor was all he needed. That applies to my third question.
I believe the person who has commonsense is observant. They pick up tips to carry in their mind like valuable treasure, and bring them out when needed. They don’t ignore good advice.
The opposite of commonsense is foolishness. Jesus told a story showing his opinion of stupid people. In Matthew 7 we have a series of his wise teachings. You may remember the final one about the wise and foolish men. The sensible person built his home on the rock. But what sticks in our minds is the graphic picture of the foolish man who erected his house on the sand. All that hard work, and what a mess after the floods!
Jesus finished by saying, Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock – Matthew 7:24.
Will we use commonsense and choose to obey what Jesus said?