ONE might assume that common sense is common. After all, is not common sense simply the application of our accumulated knowledge and life experiences in practical ways? We have all heard someone exclaim: “That’s just common sense!” when faced with an obvious blunder.
But is common sense truly as “common” as it sounds?
Common sense is not a one-size-fits-all concept. It’s a dynamic, ever-evolving trait that varies person-to-person. Each of us possesses a unique blend of knowledge and experiences, making our common sense…anything but common. When a team or its leaders brush off a problem with a casual, “That’s just common sense,” they often miss the opportunity to identify and address its underlying causes thoroughly.
True common sense is the ability to question the status quo, challenge procedures and norms, and trust our instincts over blind adherence to social conventions. It is an innate judgment that transcends mere knowledge, often called “discernment,” “sound judgment,” or “gumption.”
Interestingly, common sense is intricately linked to maturity, but not the kind measured by an intelligence quotient or IQ test. The elusive emotional intelligence or EQ, cultural intelligence or CI, creativity quotient or CQ, social intelligence or SI, and adversity quotient or AQ genuinely matter.
Intelligence alone does not guarantee common sense; the fusion of common sense, connection, interaction, contextualization, and reason leads to sound decision-making. Sadly, in a world where misinformation runs rampant, making informed decisions can be a Herculean task.
So, where does common sense originate? Some argue that it is a product of childhood; a blend of nature and nurture. Some individuals seem born with a natural awareness, observing their surroundings keenly from infancy. Parents and caregivers who exhibit common sense can help nurture this attribute in kids. But those who grow up without such role models might find themselves lacking common sense as adults.
THE consequences of lacking common sense can be observed everywhere. From the person who invades your personal space in a queue, to the dog owner who allows their pet to jump on strangers; from the hooligan who votes for a corrupt politician and still expects good governance, to a parent who spoils his child as an expression of care; from the wife who continues to seek solace from an abusive husband, to a student who expects to get 1.0 grade without lifting a finger, the world is replete with instances of common-sense deficiency. On the other hand, those who possess it are a joy to be around. They navigate social situations with grace and consideration.
Common sense also extends to understanding and respecting various cultures. When traveling or interacting with people from diverse backgrounds, embracing their customs and norms—it’s common sense. For instance, staying on the right side when walking or driving is a common-sense courtesy in our country.
Furthermore, parents should heed the call of common sense when their children act out in public. While children will be children, common sense dictates that if a child’s behavior disrupts others, it is time to remove them from the situation, or reconsider the idea of bringing them along in the first place.
Common sense is also about troubleshooting. Before declaring something as “broken,” it is prudent to invest a few moments in investigating the issue. A simple light bulb replacement or computer reboot may be all that is needed.
In essence, common sense permeates our daily lives in a myriad of ways. It is the unsung hero of social harmony; the silent mediator between individuals’ unique perspectives. But as our world undergoes constant evolutions, common sense must adapt and expand. The digital age, marked by the third “Big Bang” of technology, presents new hurdles and opportunities for common sense to flourish or falter.
‘A dynamic force’
COMMON sense is more essential than ever in this brave new world of cyberspace, where the rules are still being written. As we grapple with the complexities of online interactions, distinguishing truth from falsehood becomes a daily endeavor. Understanding the various forms of truth across different realities—physical, psychological, and artificial—is paramount.
Physical reality, with its fixed laws of physics, guides our dealings with the material world. Psychological reality, driven our neurons’ intricate workings, shapes our perceptions and interpretations. Meanwhile, artificial reality—a product of technology and the digital age—introduces a new layer of truth in transformation.
To teach common sense effectively, we must recognize that it is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Instead, it is about imparting common knowledge derived from the scientific method. Whether we teach road safety in the physical realm, stranger danger in the psychological realm, or online etiquette in the artificial realm, common sense stems from scientifically validated principles.
In our increasingly complex world, the boundaries between these realities blur, challenging our ability to discern truth. Common sense becomes a crucial tool for navigating this multifaceted terrain.
As we reflect on common sense’s intricate nature, we must acknowledge that it is not a fixed entity, but a dynamic force shaped by our evolving understanding of reality. In our pursuit of common sense, let us foster awareness, embrace diversity, and adapt to the ever-changing landscapes of our existence.
Dr. Lagon, or “Doc H,” fondly describes himself as a “student of, and for life” who, like many others, aspires to a life-giving and “why-driven” world grounded in social justice and the pursuit of happiness. His views herewith do not necessarily reflect those of the institutions he is employed or connected with.