Sunday, August 21, 2016


I think maybe too many folks have allowed too many other folks to corrupt the meaning of “common good.”

I think too many folks think the word “them” is part of the definition.

The only definition that embraces a positive outcome for you and me and the rest of the tribe is the one that emphasizes “us.”

The Commonweal Magazine recently offered a perceptive and instructive piece by Anthony Annett, who, sadly enough, did a great job of explaining the decline of the willingness to seek the common good in America.

Turns out there’s lots of blame to spread around—Annett lays out the failures, deliberate and otherwise, of Republicans and Democrats and non-political elites to support and revitalize concepts of the common good that were a more substantial foundation of our society a generation or two ago.

He examines “the common good, understood as the good arising from a shared social life in which the flourishing of the individual is inseparable from that of the community, each reinforcing the other…It does not permit the exclusion of any individual or group.”

He’s not saying the individual is not important, and he’s not saying that individual responsibility and achievement are not important. He’s saying that when the community—the civitas—is degraded, as a consequence too many individuals are degraded….when the community is not vibrant, as a consequence too many individuals are not vibrant.

When the quality of life and living improves for all (or most, or many) then the quality of life and living of each of us is improved because there are so many more opportunities for enrichment and success.

We need to talk more about “us” and less about “them.”

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

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