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Zhou 1
Meina Zhou
English 1110.01, Monday 10:20-11:15AM
Instructor: Cathy Ryan
Assignment: Common sense
February 2, 2017
Don’t let common sense restrict you
In India, mahouts are very clever; they tie the elephants to the stumps when
they are still young. Because young elephants are too weak, they are not able to get
loose from the ropes. Therefore, as time passes, young elephants form a common
sense: the ropes can never be broken. This kind of thought accompanies them
throughout their whole life. Thus, they feel they will never escape from the ropes even
when they grow up and are strong enough to break the ropes easily.
From this story, we can find that, although young elephants become adults, the
common sense in their minds is still unchangeable. Young elephants are restricted by
ropes while adults are imprisoned by common sense. While we are astonished by the
intelligence that the mahouts have, we should also realize that, even for humans, the
common sense we have is like a closed ring around our minds.
I am not saying common sense is not necessary for our society. There is no
doubt that common sense is like a guiding light in our own lives, which conduces to
reducing errors and avoiding detours for us. However, it’s not only enough to obtain
common sense, we also need to continue making a breakthrough and keep improving
as well as build old ideas into new ones.
Zhou 2
We all know that once the apple becomes ripe, it will fall to the ground. When
we see this situation, most of us may choose to pick it up and eat it. However, Newton
was inspired and came up with the law of universal gravitation by watching the fall of
an apple from a tree. For people who are not ready for change, common sense is a
basic value that nearly all people have the same opinion about without any debate.
However, common sense is a cornerstone of success for those people who are ready
for making some changes. Therefore, we can make tremendous progress by seeing the
essence of common sense.
In China, Longping Yuan is called “The Father of Hybrid Rice”. As a matter
of fact, when he started to work on hybrid rice, a professor said to him with sarcasm,
“don’t you understand rice has no hybrid vigor? It’s common sense. So don’t waste
your energy and time to do something which is obviously meaningless!” Nevertheless,
Longping Yuan didn’t care about the professor’s persuasion. He put all his effort into
the experiment, and developed the first hybrid rice varieties in the 1970s. Due to his
great contribution in agriculture, many countries could provide a robust food source
during the time when people were suffering from famine.
What if Yuan listened to the professor and stopped his experiment? What if he
believed the common sense we had about the rice? Can we still have “hybrid rice”
which saved a great amount of lives? Can he still get the high reputation and be
remembered by people from all over the world? The answer is “No”. It is normal that
people will be against the person who doubts common sense and wants to break it.
But what we can learn from Yuan is that, when we come up with new ideas, we
shouldn’t give up our new thoughts easily, we need to be persistent instead. We
should never be afraid of breaking common sense which people obey all the time.
Zhou 3
Moreover, when we look back to our history: one hundred years ago, China
still obeyed the “The Three Cardinal Guides and The Five Constant Virtues” during
the Qing dynasty and believed itself to be the strongest country in the world.
Therefore, China was attacked by Eight-Nation Alliance because they didn’t want to
make any change to make it stronger; The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 because it
ignored the developing situation of economy and society, believing in a high,
centralized system and didn’t want to break the common sense it had. Thus, there are
so many nightmares in our history, telling us the truth that if a country is not willing
to develop itself and stays the same, it will pay a great cost.
Therefore, the stories of how Indian mahouts prevent elephants from running
away, how Newton found the law of universal gravitation by watching the fall of an
apple from a tree, and Longping Yuan became “The Father of Hybrid Rice” show that:
only people who dared to break the common sense and innovate to be the first can
achieve remarkable success. Moreover, no matter if it’s a country or an individual, if
we keep sticking to old rules, we will be left behind by the world.