Sunday, April 18, 2010

Stupid Is As Stupid Does.................

The death of common sense

Lewis stresses to readers: 'Stupidity is a choice'
Posted: April 17, 20101:00 am Eastern
By Patrice Lewis
When I was growing up, my mother often lamented how uncommon common sense was. For years she hammered into my head that education or beauty or intelligence or other blessings will only go so far unless someone has the common sense to make decent decisions in life.
Now that I'm grown up, I see the wisdom – dare I say, the common sense – of her words.
I've written before how continually astounded I am by how stupid people choose to be. Because, make no mistake, stupidity is a choice.
To me, it makes perfect sense to, say, choose a decent person to marry. Your spouse will have a great impact on your future life (duh). So why would you marry the wrong person in spite of the massive red flags waving in your face? If you married a handsome stud with a reputation for womanizing, why do you later whine that you "didn't know" he would sleep around or you "thought you could make a difference" in his habits or attitudes that have been ingrained since adolescence?
I'm not saying people can't change for the better. I'm saying it's stupid to marry someone whose morals or behavior doesn't bode well for your future happiness. Where's the common sense?
Why would someone decide not to wear a seatbelt when driving? Is the thought of being thrown from a rolling vehicle more attractive than the minor confinement a seatbelt requires? Where's the common sense?
Why would a woman choose to sleep around? Doesn't she know sex can result in unwanted pregnancies, which then require the making of difficult, heart-wrenching or immoral decisions? Where's the common sense?
Why would someone purchase a house with a mortgage far beyond his ability to pay? Just because a banker says you're "qualified" is no excuse for taking on a half-million dollar home when you work as a janitor. (No kidding, I know someone who did that.) Yes, I know this is a harsh economy, but a lot of people are in trouble simply because they bit off more than they could chew. Where's the common sense?
I have a great interest in the concept of Simplicity. Contrary to popular belief, a simple life doesn't mean you hug trees and live in a log cabin. No, a simple life means you strive to make good choices. Common sense – making good choices – is one of the most under-appreciated factors in keeping your life steady in a complex world.
And the repercussions can be profound. How much simpler would your life have been if you'd listened to the wisdom of your elders instead of barging down the road of your own selfish whims? How much easier would your life have been if you hadn't married the womanizer, hadn't slept around, had worn your seatbelt or had rented an apartment instead of "buying" a McMansion?
Look, life is tough enough as it is. Things get thrown in our paths that are entirely outside our control. How much easier would it be to handle the unexpected obstacles if we've already laid a solid foundation of common sense and sound choices?
When life throws you a monkey wrench – when you face a devastating illness or suffer through a natural disaster – how much better would you fare if you already have a solid bedrock of faith, a happy family life, no debts, a preparedness mentality and other tools for coping? What I'm trying to say is, much of life's difficulties – even those beyond our mortal control – can often be mitigated by common sense before, during and after the difficulty. It drives me nuts to see people make stupid choices and then wonder why they have it so tough.
Worse, our society now encourages us to make stupid decisions without consequences. Pregnant? Here's a welfare check. Massive mortgage? Here's relief from the government. Unemployed but prefer to go fishing rather than look for work? We'll extend unemployment benefits for another week. Month. Year.
As my brother once noted, if you totally "fork up" and become a "victim," you're a hero. You receive praise for the hardships you've "overcome." You get elected. You can write books. You get free housing and medical care. But if you're constantly responsible in life, you get nothing. No praise, no accolades, no talk-show circuit.
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In other words, we've gotten to the point where bad choices and irresponsibility are rewarded. Good choices and personal responsibility are ignored at best, penalized at worst.
And the most amazing thing is, people don't want to hear this. They don't want to hear that they themselves might be responsible for the mess they're in. All the self-help books in the world can't help if you won't get off your butt and start using the common sense God gave you.
I enjoyed the movie "Confessions of a Shopoholic" because Rebecca, the heroine, eventually learned to take responsibility for her actions. Deep in debt and unwilling to stop shopping, she at first tried to blame others in order to keep her victim status. She tried to find outside resources ("I could win the lottery!") to save herself rather than changing her own behavior. But in the end, she did the wise thing: She stopped shopping, stopped blaming others, stopped evading her creditors and sold most of her possessions to pay her debts. In other words, she grew up.
Fortunately it's never (well, seldom) too late to acquire common sense. Ten years from now when you look back at your difficult situation, what decision will make you the most proud? Is it that you aborted your "accidental" pregnancy, or gave your baby up for adoption? Is it that you took out another credit card to transfer the balances from other credit cards (or worse, expected the government to bail you out), or you buckled down and lived on beans and rice until you got your debt under control? Is it that you gave in to the momentary thrill of an extramarital affair, or you went to counseling and worked hard on your marriage?
This ain't rocket science, folks. It's just common sense. Remember, stupidity is a choice.

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