Sunday, 18 September 2011

Obituary of Common Sense

An Obituary printed in the London Times – Interesting and sadly very true.

"Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.

He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:

– Knowing when to come in out of the rain;– Why the early bird gets the worm;– Life isn’t always fair;– and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common Sense took a beating when you couldn’t defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason.

He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers; I Know My Rights, I Want It Now, Someone Else Is To Blame, and I’m A Victim.

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.


I had saved the above because, mostly, I believe it. Of course I don't believe in the sentence 'Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children'. It's a loaded sentence: a sentence loaded against parents and for teachers. It assumes a lot. And you know what 'assume' does - it makes an ass out of u and me.

Unruly. What does unruly mean? I mean what? Does unruly simply mean that the teacher cannot control a child? Is it good for a teacher to control a child? And is a child who is controlled by a teacher not open to the blandishments of a paedophile? In other words, that is a child who is in danger. After all, school spends a good deal of its time making its users conform and yet warns children against conforming to certain adults' desires. Can young people discern the Janus-faced quality inherent in these teachings? Won't they be mightily confused? Conform and risk attracting abuse. Or don't conform and risk disapproval and ostracism. It takes a brave child to stand up against the pressures of peers and superiors (adults who have control over the child). And that child often gets exiled from the place of pressure.

Do parents attack teachers? Well, the media says they do. Personally I haven't known many parents who attack teachers about anything. They might disagree with teachers, but they don't attack them. You're going to say that my experience isn't too extensive and just because I haven't seen it doesn't mean it doesn't occur. You'd be right.

Can you really discipline an 'unruly' child? I mean can you punish a child? Does punishment work? Will the child merely turn into a conformist or a silent rebel when punished for some transgression as defined by the institution? Won't a silent rebel eventually outwardly reveal his or her inner rebellion? Doesn't anger at injustice flame in the depths of every rebel?

So. Unless you strictly define the terms, you cannot just lob the bombs implied in that sentence, can you? Or you can, but it's not fair. It's not fair to parents, teachers or children.

The piece about Common Sense is good though. And seemed to be relevant when the Labour government was attempting to convert all of us into pathetic cotton wool people. Let's hope those days are over altogether.

Or are all governments still pulling the cotton wool over our eyes?

1 comment:

  1. I don't know... you see, you illustrate the big problem with talking about "common sense", in that whoever wrote this cobblers thinks that "punishing children" is common sense, whereas you think it isn;t.

    So we can all nod sagely when people talk about how "common sense" has died, but it turns out, we're all thinking about something different, and our nostalgia for when "things were better" is hijacked by folks who will happily sell us out for a tanner.