Where Did It Go?
“These are the times that try men’s souls,” so said Thomas Paine, in Common Sense, probably the most influential pamphlet in American history. Published anonymously in January 1776, its author, Thomas Paine, in clear and simple language made the case for our independence from Great Britain in a way that resonated with the colonists. So compelling and easily grasped, Washington had it read to all his troops. Interestingly, relative to the population of the nation at the time, it had the largest circulation of any book before or since.
Wikipedia defines ‘common sense’ as the basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge things, which is shared by nearly all people. Of course, this definition presupposes a society that has the education and the character necessary to understand and judge properly. Without this foundation one can easily be swayed by an either eloquent or an emotional message, which may in fact be nonsensical.
Does This Make Sense?
Every two years during the elections, the sometimes eloquent, often emotional and usually nonsensical rhetoric is unleashed. And what is the primary message? Blame. This negative approach affects all of those who tune in to the process.
Facebook proved this recently in a test in which they randomly selected a group of constituents and placed only negative comments in their feeds. Interestingly, these people began to post negative comments as well. Then they began to allow only positive posts and the same people began to post positive information.
I believe it is a lack of character or core principles which allows people to be swayed by the environmental conditions to which they are exposed. Common sense tells you that people should be responsible for their own ideas and attitudes.
Another disturbing indicator to me during this campaign season is the number of political signs at the voting precinct. Obviously political candidates believe that people show up to vote with no idea of whom they are voting for. What if they are right? Common sense should tell you it is a wasted effort to place political signs at the polling places, but not anymore.
My Two Cents
The State of Florida governor race is interesting. You have one candidate who was a Republican governor, ran for the Senate as a Republican and lost in the primary. Then he switched to being an Independent in the general election and lost. Now he is running for governor as a Democrat. On the flip side, the other candidate, and I’m sure I sound biased, has worked to create nearly 600,000 jobs in the state in four years.
They both have made mistakes in their past, they are humans and nobody is perfect; yet the entire campaign is focused on the failures each has had. This is not about which candidate you like as an individual; both are bright, personable people. Common sense tells you that both Democrats and Republicans have positions that are correct. Cooperation is not about who is right, but only what is right.
It isn’t just the political process; the media needs a good dose of common sense too. They no longer report on facts, but instead present opinions in a ceaseless pursuit of ratings. One network uses beautiful female hosts, while another showcases strikingly handsome men. Common sense will tell you clearly: it’s all about ratings to attract more money.
Make That Three Cents
History designates times or eras with names to remind us of the conditions during that period, for example, the Age of Discovery, of Revolution, of Enlightenment, industry or technology, etc. This period of history will be known as the “Cooked Frog” era. Society is like the bullfrog that is placed in cool water and the temperature turned up just a few degrees per hour. If dropped into hot water, the bullfrog would immediately jump out, but instead, as the temperature rises, it will be cooked to death.
Think about Paine’s words, penned over 200 years ago: “Some writers have so confused the society with the government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher. Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one…”
Jeff Piersall is co-founder and CEO of SCB Marketing, which publishes i4 Business and SpaceCoast Business magazines. Contact him at (321) 537-4941 or firstname.lastname@example.org