Has Chicken Soup for the Soul replaced Common Sense? Why has thinking gone to pasture? Have we lost our minds entirely?
Common sense is 235 years old. Common Sense, that is: The 18th-century pamphlet by the Englishman Thomas Paine that argued beautifully for independence from British rule in just 48 pages.
While this opus is still very much alive in classrooms, websites, and C-Span Television screens across the nation, the other “common sense” is very much dead.
Yup. Gone and buried is that silent little voice that helped us make wise decisions and choices.
Why else do people resort to Chicken Soup for the Soul products to find solutions in other people’s “been there done that” serial stories of, say, “energy, endurance and endorphins”? Or stories that inspire you to count your blessings, or how to find silver linings. Mmmm mmmm good!
And why would Chicken soup devotees advertise this to the world by buying the eponymously branded t-shirts, calendars… but wait, there’s more!
Why do people consult Oprah Winfrey, a television chat host, for what book to read… and not wonder why the very book soon ends up in the New York Times’ best-seller list?
Why do women — and Eddie Izzard? — throw out the just-declared-awful pink color just because fashion magazines magically deemed that, by God, red lipstick is now the color?
Why else would we guzzle Gatorade, with chemicals unknown to earth with “shades” of Lysol? Why not the proven well endowed banana — with natural molecules, that is.
Why else do my friends now handsomely pay a home organizer to tell them which personal possessions to keep and which to throw out? Can you really not determine whether or not you should hang on to your high school photos?
Why else do mothers-to-be buy dozens of baby magazines and self-help books that prescribe so much advice they end up conflicting themselves? Our mothers never had this and yet they knew the essentials of bringing up baby without dropping it on its head or wondering if there is a diaper that stimulates cognitive development. Don’t laugh, undoubtedly instructions for both are in some best-seller with chapters of their own.
And why else would mothers now wonder whether or not they should become Tiger Moms? As opposed to helicopter or soccer moms? Whatever. I just don’t know how I — and thousands of my birth-year cohorts — were successfully raised by moms without a label. Gee, this must make them heroes. Pardon the label.
And do we really need Dr. Oz telling us to eat cauliflower and broccoli during the Super Bowl instead of potato chips? Do we really need a doctor in every news channel touting his unique “prescription” like a carnival barker? Don’t drink coffee, it causes memory loss… Drink coffee, it’s good for your heart… Acai is the new anti-oxidant, guaranteed fountain of youth… No, it’s bad for you… Green tea is the new elixir.
And how about foundations to teach American kids to eat right after school?
Why, why, why? I could go on and on.
THINK ABOUT IT. Everything has to be dictated by some book, some gimmick, some product, some organization, or some expert or celebrity whose knowledge is inversely proportional to his or her fame. Some of Paine’s common sense to my rescue: “the author of this production is wholly unnecessary to the public.”