The Common Good

Response from Jim Wallis, President of Sojourners, to State of the Union Address

Date: January 28, 2014

CONTACT:
Beau Underwood, bunderwood@sojo.net, 815-303-1990


"Opportunity. There might not be a more American word than “opportunity.” But it has never come easily or without struggle. We live in a time when the dreams of so many are slipping away and inequality has become, as President Obama has stated, the "defining challenge of our time."

Addressing these problems requires tapping the power of religious beliefs and moral values in helping us imagine a different world. This means fixing our broken immigration system, building an economy that works for everyone, and responding to the reality of climate change by becoming better stewards of the earth. It also means talking about race honestly, paying women equally, and reaching a bipartisan commitment to eradicate poverty. It demands bringing failed wars to an end and giving diplomacy the chance to succeed.

The question underlying all of our political debates is “what kind of nation do we want to be?” Uniting around our deepest values requires us to transcend political conflict and refocus our attention on the ancient idea of the common good. That is how we restore the promise of a nation where opportunities are available to all.

As an evangelical Christian, I believe the moral test of any policy proposal is never which party offers the idea, but how it treats “the least of our brothers and sisters” (Matthew 25:40). My hope and prayer is that the president’s speech tonight will help inspire us to welcome the stranger, feed the hungry, and care for the vulnerable. That is the nation we should strive to become; and those are the values that should guide every public servant entrusted with political power."