The Common Good

The Common Good, The Planet, and Humankind

Date: May 15, 2013

Jim Wallis, author and editor of Sojourner's magazine, was in town last week to speak on his latest book On God's Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn't Learned About Serving The Common Good. Although Mr. Wallis looks a tad older (don't we all) and a bit overwhelmed with where our country's political and social state is, his hopeful message remained the same: We are all interconnected; we are all each other's neighbor and it's time we recommit to an ancient idea: the common good.

The common good. I wondered again why it is that people stumble over what the definition of that is. It was the fabric of my youth and adult life. Public parks, public schools, public libraries, public works departments. We made attempts to take care of everyone. We worked at making a place at the table for everyone. Sure, you had friends who had their lake cottage, but I had the public swimming pool and picnics at the public beach on Lake Michigan.

Wallis, an evangelical, acknowledged that many people define the term "common good" in different ways. He includes in his book one of his favorite definitions from Catholic social justice teaching: " The common good is the whole network of social conditions, which enable humans and groups to flourish. All are responsible for all."