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Editorial Reflections

Creating the ‘common good’ requires everyone taking responsibility

Sojourners editor Jim Wallis spent a three-month sabbatical in 2012 working on a book about “the common good,” a concept he said has been “lost in our politics and our society.”

He believes people long for the common good that includes everyone, recognizing that young people, women, immigrants, and people of color are not special interest groups, but all are “vital members of God’s beloved community.”

Bandied about in the political forum is a demeaning use of the words “special interest” or “entitlement” when some people of higher incomes refer to people of lower income levels.  Their goal is to set lower-income people against each other, undermining the call that we are all to love our neighbors, especially the “least” of our brothers and sisters who are hungry, thirsty, homeless, sick, in prison, down and out.

While shunning the common good as if it were a communist concept—bad in the mindset of wealthy government-perk-dependent folks—many pseudo capitalists feel entitled to the benefits they set in stone in laws to assure their success. 

They may mock entitlements others have worked and saved to receive, in order to divert attention from themselves and focus on demeaning those with less to direct more government funds into their coffers.

Meanwhile utility rates, health care costs, food expenses, gasoline prices, clothing prices, housing expenses and more rise at higher than the Social Security cost of living rate of 1.7 percent, ostensibly to cover the cost of doing business. 

We wonder why people—even families—wind up on the streets. 

We wonder why 30 homeless people died in Spokane last year—five of them under 17 years of age.  They died one-by-one—invisible.

Those who see work in the many programs addressing the multiple facets of homelessness—shelters, transitional housing, affordable housing, a tent city, Family Promise, Habitat for Humanity, energy and utility assistance, and the varied wrap-around social services to give job training, parental skills, drug and alcohol abuse rehabilitation and mental health care. Each seeks to alleviate causes for people losing homes to prevent more dying on the streets.

Each of us can do something to make a difference to restore the mindset to know that “the common good” is more than an elusive idea. 

It’s about everyone’s quality of life.  It’s about seeing ourselves as part of the family of God and responsible for each other’s wellbeing.

Mary Stamp - Editor           

Copyright © January 2013 - The Fig Tree