Rocky trail

How am I to know about your problems and your load?
I am blind to what you show.
I am waiting to be told, I never ask.

It’s a pleasant feeling when somehow you just feel so connected to a song. It may sound ridiculous when you even feel that the song was made for you. Though my favorite part is when it can actually spark a spiral of thoughts in my mind.

Some songs are magical in their own way. It’s probably similar to the experience when we let our mind wander by imagining the scene of a particular situation while reading a good book.

While listening to the latest Kings of Convenience’s single, Rocky Trail, and trying to comprehend the lyric, I somehow picture a scene where Erlend and Eirick are talking to me and trying to let me know that:

The world doesn’t owe you anything, even the need to understand you. You’re bound to explain your thinking process if you want us to understand. That’s how it works, there’s no other way around.

A lot of times, we expect people to know what we feel or what they have to do because we think that it’s common sense. But common sense is not a reliable thing to depend on. How and where we were raised, our personal character, and our different way of thinking will distort the way we interpret “universal common sense”.

If I can quote Wikipedia, it says that “Common sense is … a basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge in a manner that is shared by (i.e. common to) nearly all people.” By this definition, we can conclude that in order to have common sense, we all should have a shared understanding of the values that we want to agree on collectively.

With that in mind, I can hardly mention one example of common sense that applies universally except when there’s a biological consequence associated with the act. For example, it’s only common sense to eat when we feel hungry, or to run/hide when we see a dangerous animal nearby us. But to think about them as common sense without crediting the biological aspect to them isn’t fair either. They can be considered common sense because there’s a biological consequence that we understand naturally as a living thing.

At this point, I don’t even know if I can still agree that there’s something like “universal common sense”, when we don’t even share the same language. And maybe language itself is the only perfect example of common sense that isn’t associated with biological consequences, with the scope of everyone who speaks and understands the language. For example, everyone who speaks English can understand what I mean and how they should react when I say “be careful, there’s a big fire in that building”. But everyone else who doesn’t speak or never study English, will have no understanding of what that means or how they should act when I tell them the exact same thing.

Applying that logic, we can perhaps agree that common sense, after all, is limited by cultural influence when it doesn’t have a certain association with any biological consequences. Understanding this will help to explain why we can’t rely too much on common sense. Because the line between what is accepted as common sense in this universe is blurry and fluid depending on the cultural context. Even for a thing as simple as flushing the toilet when we’re done with our business isn’t universally shared. If you’ve been to China then you probably know that.

Rather than common sense, I think it will be more interesting if humans can develop a set of mind paradigm to make the work of understanding other people easier to do. On the surface, I think this has been realized by having personality types or even the horoscope system. However, I understand that it’s far from perfect and it’s bound to isolate our mind in categorical thinking. In this case, I can just hope that humans can survive long enough to be able to develop a better alternative to this.

Or perhaps, we don’t even need to label our thinking process in the first place. For now, let’s just strive to value each other as unique individuals whose minds can be completely different from each other. After all, if human is a book, there’s no other way to know the content than to read it.