Tuesday, October 07, 2008

What is the Cost of the Common Good?

"What is the cost of the common good?"
"What is the common good?"
"What does it take for a community to thrive? A nation to thrive? A planet to thrive?"
What are the resources it requires to see this into being?"

In an email to my brother in law, Chris Johnson, last Friday, I wrote: "We all need to develop a capacity to talk about the common good and how that is funded!" This gives rise to my questions today. I have a deep deep desire to challenge our society's conversations about the economy, economic policy, economic philosophy, government, taxation perspectives, political party reductions, to a more complex level. Yes.

If we are going to see a shift in the simplistic labeling, understanding and reduction of Democrats as the "Tax and spend" folks and Republicans as "Less government" advocates, we have to encourage a more critical discourse around this idea of the "common good."

What does it cost to sustain the common good?

I've coped this here before, but I believe these are helpful links to promote this thinking, or to increase education on the complexity of this topic....It's JUST A PLACE TO START.

Sr. Mary Virginia Schmidt, VHM, attended this conference about the Common Good, and gave me the platform hand out. I went to the website and found my home as a Global Citizen. (A Global Citizen who understands her citizenship, her responsibilities by virtue of her faith and being Catholic). Yes. Copied below is an excerpt from this website that provides another lens to view this, and to hold the complexity of this time.

"Reading the founding documents of the United States, one has to be impressed by the concept of freedom they enshrine: a freedom designed to enable people to fulfill their duties and responsibilities toward the family and toward the common good of the community."
- Pope John Paul II
Address to Ambassador Claiborne Boggs, December 16, 1997

What is the Common Good?

In a country where everything seems less secure - our jobs, health care, pensions, national defense, the environment, and even our marriages - it is easy to lose sight of the common good and the call to care for our neighbors as ourselves. A culture of the common good is one in which people look out for each other and concern for one another is reflected in our corporations, communities, and government.

A culture of the common good provides for the health, welfare, and dignity of all people, regardless of race, gender, religion or economic class. This central goal of Catholic Social Teaching expresses our faith's understanding that society functions best when decisions are made with an eye toward what benefits everyone, and not just the few. In the words of Pope John Paul II, the common good refers to the "good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all."

Concern for the common good is deeply enshrined in the values of our nation as well. The first three words of our Constitution's Preamble, "We the people," remind us that the United States is first and foremost a community of human relationships. Unlike many nations, that bond comes not from a common ethnicity or religion but from our common humanity and our shared belief in the freedom and dignity of all people.

This balance between self- and shared-interest should not be understood only as a summons to perform works of charity. While we should work to help the least fortunate, the common good is best served when all are able to make their own contributions to social and economic life. In this respect, our Christian and American understanding of the common good impels us to seek a world where all have the opportunity to realize their full human potential, engage in productive work, and lead fulfilled lives.

The erosion of community life that accompanies this era of greed, materialism, and excessive individualism ranks among the most imminent threats to our national well-being. In fact, one Zogby poll found that "greed and materialism" topped a list most urgent moral crisis in the US. Lost retirement savings due to recent corporate accounting scandals, dissolution of family life under the weight of overworked and underpaid parents, and growing fears about the long-term effects of global climate change are reminders that individual decisions can have painful and far-reaching consequences. In answering this call to the common good, we express our understanding that rising tides should lift all boats - we are better off individually when all are better off as a whole.

"Catholics In Alliance for the Common Good." http://www.catholicsinalliance. org/

In peace,

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