A Word

Column: Here lies common sense by Jacqueline Alexander
First published in the Henley Standard newspaper

A recent deluge of news stories have highlighted how rare it is to see common sense applied in situations just crying out for a little basic logic.

A dinner lady has been sacked for telling the truth. Ofsted has prohibited two police officers on a job share from also sharing their respective childcare duties. And, if the latest reports are to be believed, some areas of the country have a police force that will not attend scenes of extreme anti-social behaviour for fear of "aggravating the situation".

Although it would be comforting to believe that these examples are the exception to the rule, the virtual world has dug up an article written in 1998 that proves otherwise. It would seem that we have been suffering at the hands of an absence of common sense in officialdom for more than a decade.

The article in question, a witty and acutely well observed obituary, was originally written by Lori Borgman, author of I was a Better Mother Before I had Kids. Lori's well chosen words have recently been circulated on the internet - often in an edited form with some having the cheek to credit the poem to that elusive scribe, Anonymous.

The full text can be found at Lori's website (www.loriborgman.com) but there is not room here* so we have selected one of the preferred edits. As funny as it is sad, the words have hit a note with many - let's hope some of them are in a position to change things:

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 earn) and reliable parenting 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 six-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 they themselves failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer Panadol, sun lotion or a Band-Aid to a student but could not inform the parents when a student became pregnant or wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband, 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 was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason. He is survived by three stepbrothers; I Know My Rights, Someone Else is to Blame, and I'm A Victim.

Not many attended his funeral because so few realised he was gone.

If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.

RIP Common Sense

* In the printed version of the Henley Standard newspaper.

Next: A blast from the past

Audio: Jacqueline Alexander presents Web Watch with Phil Kennedy on BBC Berkshire and BBC Oxford:

Copyright: Jacqueline Alexander 2012

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