A look around our country these days, where divisive politics and the howling of cultists grab many of the headlines, should have us all looking forward with anticipation to a much-needed November holiday – and I’m not talking about Thanksgiving.
Created in 2015 by author-blogger and educator Bud Bilanich, Nov. 4 is “Use Your Common Sense Day,” which if taken literally could greatly improve our chances for long-term survival.
The Harvard-educated Bilanich, who writes from Denver, thinks a day dedicated to following common sense could work wonders.
He chose Nov. 4 because that’s the birthday of an American master of common sense aphorisms, Will Rogers.
Rogers got it right when he noted something painfully obvious today: “Just because it’s common sense doesn’t mean it’s common practice.”
Still, reverence to common sense runs deep in national history: In 1776, Thomas Paine’s treatise by that name helped sway public opinion toward independence, with thoughts including, “It is not in numbers, but in unity, that our great strength lies…”
National Today, a website that keeps track of holidays no matter how obscure, describes “Common Sense Day” as a good time for introspection about our avoidable mistakes and hosting a “common sense meme evening” to “Have a blast laughing about silly things people do and how to avoid making mistakes like that.”
If anyone had a handle on common sense it was the folksy Rogers, a down-home philosopher, one-time cowboy, vaudevillian and movie star who died in a 1935 plane crash at age 55.
Some of his observations:
The trouble with practical jokes is that very often they get elected.
Ten men in the country could buy the world and ten million can’t buy enough to eat.
If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.
I don’t belong to any organized political party. I am a Democrat.
It takes nerve to be a Democrat, but it takes money to be a Republican.
Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today.
The taxpayers are sending congressmen on expensive trips abroad. It might be worth it, except they keep coming back.
No man is great if he thinks he is.
We shouldn’t elect a president. We should elect a magician.
This country is bigger than Wall Street. If they don’t believe it, show ’em the map.
Party politics is the most narrow minded occupation in the world.
Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.
We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others.
Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.
Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
A fool and his money are soon elected.
And finally, as we in our time witness resistance to vaccines and masks, and endure fevered adherence to The Big Lie, theatrical old Will broke a leg with this one:
“The problem in America isn’t so much what people don’t know; the problem is what people think they know that just ain’t so.”Gerry Goldstein (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a retired Providence Journal editor and columnist.