Jim Dickson

Two common words for 2022


Common decency – “Common everyday courtesy, respect, and politeness that is expected by social convention.”

Common sense – “Sound, practical judgment concerning everyday matters, or a basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge in a manner that is shared by nearly all people.”

They sound like pretty simple concepts, and if I recall correctly, they were common traits found in most people, and probably still are.

I remember when I was a boy, I would hear my father and his friends talk about politics, and it was not unusual to hear him say something like “Even though the governor is a Republican and usually wrong about almost everything, he still is a decent man and has a lot of common sense, so I guess we can get along with him until we can get our man in next time.”

My dad liked to refer to himself as a “Strong Franklin Roosevelt Democrat” as were most of his friends. On the other hand we had a Democrat mayor of our small city and my dad’s opinion of him was that he was “dumb as a stump, without a lick of common sense, but he is a decent man who tries his best.” Never once did I ever hear he or his friends say anything hateful or hostile about either man or any other politician. I think they were decent men, and had a lot of common sense about politics and life in general, as did most people around the country.

I don’t remember just exactly when we began to lose common sense and along with it common decency. When it became normal to hate our elected officials with whom we disagreed. Maybe it started with the 24-hour news cycle. The networks had to have something to fill the time and nothing builds ratings and sells advertising like sensational news, real or manufactured.

Maybe it was the rise of social media where anyone with anything to say can be taken seriously by vast numbers of people who will believe what they see is legitimate news.

Somehow we have begun think of elected officials as evil men and women who are out to bring down our nation and destroy our way of life simply because they belong to another political party. To rejoice in their failures and disparage their successes.

I am not naive enough to think that there are not some people in government who are working to harm our country. We do have enemies, and a good way to harm us is to have their people in government, but common sense tells us that they are few and far between. I think most of the men and women in government are decent people and are there because they want to do the best they can to serve the people they represent, and whatever their political leanings, they do not deserve to be hated, threatened, and despised because of their beliefs.

I know that we can’t go back to the days when we all sat in front of the black-and-white TV and watched Walter Cronkite on the six o’clock news tell us the news of the day. He was the face of truth, and we believed what he had to say. Most of the time it was really hard news and almost never editorializing.

Times were much simpler. We can’t, and probably would not want to go back to those days even if we could. Today we have “news” coming at us from everywhere, Network, 24-hour, social media, emails, and yes, even your next door neighbor who knows all of the wacko news that he got from the internet and is breathless to share it with you.

Because of this, we need to apply a lot of common sense to sort it all out and come up with something that does make sense. If you listen to Fox News all the time, or MSNBC all the time, or CNN all the time, or Network News all the time, or NPR all the time, or even your crazy neighbor all the time, it is going to be hard to come up with what might be close to the truth, but a combination of these (excluding your crazy neighbor and social media), a good newspaper or two, and a little common sense will probably get you there.

I seldom agreed with President Obama’s policies the eight years he was president. On the personal level he seemed like nice guy, a loving father and husband, so he was sure not all bad. I almost never agree with anything President Biden, Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer do or say today.

I certainly don’t like growing inflation, high gas prices, open borders, increasing crime rates and feckless foreign policy. I am not sure that you can lay all this at the current administration’s door, but their finger prints are all over it. This being said, I don’t hate them or wish them any harm. I don’t know their motivation for what they do. I am sure that if you ask any of them they would tell you that they are doing what they think is best for the country. I, of course, would strongly disagree with that, but common sense tells me that hating them accomplishes nothing.

Working for the changes that I would like in a civil, peaceful, democratic way accomplishes everything. We have a system that has worked pretty well for more than 240 years. It’s not always been pretty, but the good and the bad is a part of what we are, and who we are; changing that history and judging it by today’s morals and standards will accomplish nothing. We need to learn from it, so that we can do better today and into the future.

Rioting, burning. The destruction of private property, shutting off free speech, and canceling those with whom we disagree will only bring us down, and then we all lose. We should not allow the radical left or right to drive the agenda. The decent, common-sense people are by far the majority in this country; we should start acting like it.

Abraham Lincoln, a Republican who I think had a lot of common sense, wisely said at a difficult time in our history “A house divided against itself, cannot stand.” It was true then and it’s true now.

The time has come that we need to stop hating, use the common sense that God gave us mixed with a large dose of common decency, and begin to pull together to solve some of the problems that we have in our country today. We can and must do it.

We are privileged to live in a country that has created the greatest prosperity and the greatest freedom the world has ever known. It’s well worth working together to preserve and to make it better for everyone, even those without a “lick of common sense or decency.”

Born, raised and educated in the Southwest, Jim Dickson served in the U.S. Navy Reserve in Vietnam before a 35-year business career. Retired to St. Helena Island, Dickson and his wife are fiscally conservative, socially moderate and active in Republican politics, though they may not always agree with Republicans. Having lived around the country and traveled around the world, Dickson believes that the United States truly is the land of opportunity.

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