No Jumping Off The Building Today

It is amazing these days the number of people who do not have common sense or what my grandfather called “walking around sense.” I know, I’ve written about this subject before, but lately it seems I find more people unable to walk around without running over their brain. We are raising the academic scores everyday for college entrance exams and I see children who make me very proud of our younger generation, due to their abilities to accomplish so much in our schools, but we are starting to run into problems when it comes to the amount of common sense that is being absorbed by the citizenry of this country. Just watch how congress has been acting lately, along with the current elections, and you can see my point.  

Common sense has to be taught at home, on the athletic field, school or by experience. The latter is a dear teacher; probably one of the best on the subject. Coming from a farm, I found experience taught me common sense every time I stepped out the backdoor. It just seems that there are more opportunities to teach common sense in a farm setting. Not to downgrade the importance of advanced education, but without “good ole horse sense” a person is doomed to a life of pushing on doors that should be pulled to open.  

During the recent election, I saw numerous campaign ads that really tested our common sense. After having run for an elected office myself this past summer, and seeing just how far we all check out the qualifications of our elected officials and issues, it’s no wonder we have the problems we have up on Capitol Hill these days. So often we base our votes on who asked me first, who has the most signs, who looks the best on TV, what they served at the rally and the real kicker, what party they belong to. Sometimes it helps to look at the candidate’s record, background (not just what the other candidate is saying) and how his thoughts work with yours on issues that really matter to you.  

We have all been voting on amendments and some on whether or not to have wine in grocery stores, which should have made us all do some real checking of the truth instead of just listening to the TV. Now let me ask you the common sense question. Did you study these issues or did you just vote pretty much with your eyes closed?  

I didn’t have to vote on the wine in grocery stores issue due to not living in a city where the referendum was held, but I did get asked my opinion by a policeman how I would vote, and it just so happened I had done my studying on the issue. The officer asked my opinion and I gave it to him. First, let me say I don’t consume the product or alcohol and have seen nothing but problems with its consumption over my lifetime. I’ve seen friends’ homes ruined, jobs lost and lives taken because of that first drink and I don’t advise its consumption. I know there are those of you who would take issue with me over that, but I base my opinion on religious study, experience and medical fact. I just see putting it in the grocery store as just one more way of making it available to our youth and more problems with regulation. You may have noticed that all the TV ads use primarily young families holding small children asking, “Where’s the wine?” In my opinion, this was not a good way to advertise the issue.  

Several years ago, the nation was all involved in a new book that had just hit the market, entitled “Everything I Know, I Learned in Kindergarten.” Well, like myself, many of you never had the opportunity to experience kindergarten, but yet, I like to think we know as much, if not maybe more, about life than what some generations who had the advantage of kindergarten do today.

No, I didn’t have kindergarten, but I did have the sixth grade and a teacher who instilled in all her students a lot of what they needed to know about being a person who matters in today’s society and world. She actually taught common sense, not as a subject, but more so in her methods. A short while back I was asked to do the eulogy at the funeral for that sixth grade teacher, which I considered to be a huge honor. She saw to it that we did learn, whether we wanted to or not. In her wisdom she recognized we were all individuals, with different abilities, capabilities and desires. In the one year that she had us as students, she helped us all develop those abilities and channeled our desires to maybe one day recognize what we truly wanted to be in life. At the age of 65 I got into politics, and yes, I remembered things taught by that teacher.

The teacher’s desk was located up front and the portrait of George Washington hung over her desk. Mrs. Wilma Smotherman was a genius in psychology. I will always think she had that picture of Washington hanging over her desk to keep us all honest. Maybe that is why I ran as an Independent because that was what Washington ran as for his first election.  

Other writers have said that teachers were the first to teach us leadership, as well as the need to have our own social qualities, when they often say, “If everyone else jumped off the roof, would you?”

And, that’s my thought today, “If everyone else jumped off the roof, would you?”


 – Pettus L. Read is Journalist for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted by e-mail at