Common Senselessness

8 02 2010

At the height of the Roaring Twenties, the majority of adults were smokers.  One might imagine that the roaring sound was their collective hacking.  Let’s assume that they had no knowledge of the scientific evidence that it caused lung cancer, heart attacks, erectile dysfunction and birth defects.  In fact, let’s admit that the studies had not even been conducted yet.  Are we to assume, then, that humanity had no idea that what they were doing was maladaptive?  We would be incorrect if we were to say that smoking is dangerous.  The term, “danger,” implies risk.  Risk implies that there’s at least some chance, no matter how small, of getting through unscathed.  With smoking, there is no such chance.  If you smoke, then you will wreak your lungs massively.  One has absolutely no chance of smoking a single cigarette without causing great harm to one’s own body.  It’s not danger.  It’s destruction.  It’s not risk.  It’s self-mutilation.  A person might smoke yet miss emphysema and lung cancer.  Likewise, a person might drive straight into a brick wall and not die.  In either case, the voluntary victim never comes out ahead of the game.

Yes, but we needed scientific evidence in order to know that smoking is harmful.  That first puff at the flaming stick that left us gagging, choking and gasping for air gave us no indication that what we were doing might be injurious.  God put that reflex in us to avoid getting smoke in the eyes and to avoid breathing it.  Had the involuntary reaction not been planted within us, then we might claim ignorance.  We might inhale that first drag uninhibited.  Instead, our bodies screamed bloody murder at us, begging and pleading that we stop, but we did it.  We continued to do it, and then we did it again.  We kept doing it until the mechanism against it was burned to death.  We killed the messenger.

And then we could smoke as freely as we wished.

Too bad, the early people did not have the scientific studies to show them that they were wrong.  Okay, so it was obvious that breathing hot toxic fumes and ash was probably a stupid thing to do.  Nice sensitive mucous membrane tissues smoked like a side of beef jerky probably wasn’t the best invention of mankind.  Yet, people did it.  Not just a freaky fringe of society did it, either.  The general masses adopted the practice like a hot fad.  This should have been the death knell for the term “common sense,” because there obviously isn’t any such thing.  I have, for some time, felt inclined to resist the urge to ridicule people who smoke.  After all, I know that they are addicted, and quitting the cancer stick is one of the hardest achievements a person can make.  Even so, it was the fear of ridicule that drove them to it in the first place.

Oh, but let’s not sit too hard on the poor addict. The overwhelming majority of us will drive home from work today, following the car before us by a mere few feet.  A quick survey on a crowded fast-moving highway is enough to show us that even if society dumped the cigarette tomorrow, we’d still be a culture made up primarily of reckless fools.  We don’t really need physicists and automobile crash tests to tell us that we need way more distance than we’re using to protect us in the event that the car in front of us comes to a screeching halt.  If we were honest with ourselves, we would count the cost of our own stupid ways.

Yet, the foolishness of others so often overrides the wisdom within us, even when it screams out loud.  We have killed ourselves and donated our bodies to the collective madness of our world.

Do I blame the Nazi soldier who was just following orders?  Perhaps, he was just a blind fool, doing his duty to his nation.  His commander told him to gas the Jews, and his fellows did it, too, so he figured on doing it, himself.  Yet, I do not doubt that the God-made conscience within him demanded that he stop.  I am sure that he killed that messenger, committing the deed until his own personal objections were dispelled.  In fact, I do blame the common man for every deed that he commits, for though he chooses to follow the herd, he is not without warning.

The sense of the common is ad populum. It is the fallacy that if everyone else seems to think so, then it must be true.  Millions of people can’t be wrong, can they?  In truth, billions of people are wrong every day.  If common sense even exists, then it is nothing more than a herd mentality.  It is more of a common ignorance or a common senselessness.   The entire society has a mind of its own that acts to override the thinking of its individuals.  What should be obvious to anyone is erased, renamed and redefined in favor of the popular trend.  People are so afraid of disagreement, that they sacrifice their own insight to the god of approval from others.

No establishment, no organization and no society is immune to this disease.  Smoking was just a symptom.  The fact is that we cannot trust the wisdom of others, no matter their expertise nor their standing.  All are subject to the beast.  The professor and the farmer are both victims.  The national syndicate and the local tabloid are both vectors for this disease.  Your parents may have taught you wrong, and the person who challenged you to challenge your parents may also be dead wrong.  This blog may be wrong, but so might your encyclopedia.  When all comes to naught, one might easily slip into the postmodern notion that nothing can truly be known.

But let’s go back to that first draw on the cigarette.  Before you conditioned yourself to accept the unacceptable, you were naturally inclined to accept the truth.  Smoking was wretched, and it felt awful.  In the prime of your life, when you were just a little kid that hadn’t undergone the brainwashing influences of public education, you were more inclined to believe in God.  Kids have an innate tendency to believe in the Almighty.  It takes years of conditioning to beat this out of them.

Unless we become like little children, we cannot accept what once seemed natural to us.  Without simple faith that has no reliance on the common senselessness of the world we cannot enter Heaven, when the world is rushing in a stampede for Hell.

Case in point, intelligent design of all living things is quite obvious.  Isolated from the foolishness of popular culture, we would naturally see that, given that we understand the complexity of an organism, at least in part.  If not for the sages and mad hordes around us telling us otherwise, we would naturally conclude that life has a design indicative of an intelligent designer.  All of creation testifies to this.

We take the first draw from the Darwinist cigarette, and we gag.  Through repetition and a faith in the intelligence of our fellow humans we come to accept the unacceptable, until, eventually, we find that the lie has become a bare necessity of our existence.  We feel that we cannot live without it.

The common man is no fool, but he lives like one.  He talks like one.  He trains himself to be one.  In following the common man, we do the same.




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