Rev. Wayne Walder: Common Good

by Reverend Wayne Walder

Do you know what the “Common Good” is? I have never heard it discussed at a party. Maybe you’ve heard it spoken about through a poem or some good political policy, but you have to look for that. Few stories appear on the nightly news about it and I have seldom seen it discussed on the front page of a newspaper or magazine. Even our own internal dialogue doesn’t often consider the notion of the “Common Good”. The common good is not that common.

Yet we tell people about our own “good” all the time. We share our take on politics and what should be done to fix the world. We complain about how people don’t think things through. We watch politicians and large corporations say they want to make the world better, as we watch them settle for simple ways to get votes and make a profit.

When they do this – when we do this– we unknowingly reject a “common good” and the ideas about the nature of good. Then we can no longer persuade others through rational arguments. Everything becomes personal opinion.

You can see this in the recent debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Debates about ideas degenerate into power struggles because there are no moral standards to measure their actions and ideas. Lying: I thought it was necessary at the time. Aggression: I thought it was needed.

Let us talk again as wise people, about the common good. Let’s talk about why we build hospitals, why we have health care, why we make laws, why we pay taxes. Let’s talk about a few objective standards we can agree on. Let’s talk about the difference between personal opinion and what we all can see as good.

Because when we forget what the common good is, we risk losing it.


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