In The Common Good (2018) Robert B. Reich writes that the people of the United States are focused less on “…the common good” and more “…on self-aggrandizement.” He says that “…the idea of the ‘common good’ was once widely understood and accepted in America. After all, the United States Constitution was designed for ‘We the people’ seeking to ‘promote the general wealth….” Unfortunately, “…the common good is no longer a fashionable idea.”
Reich states that “the Common Good consists of our shared values about what we owe one another as citizens who are bound together in the same society – the norms we voluntarily abide by, and the ideals we seek to achieve, …keeping the common good in mind is a moral attitude. If there is no common good, there is no society.”
Reich continues “…we must agree on basic principles – such as how we deal with our disagreements, the importance of our democratic institutions, our obligations toward the laws, our respect for the truth – if we’re to participate in the same society.”
Sadly, according to Reich, the first to break the unwritten rules that exploits the common good for personal gain is rewarded. This has now resulted in the attitudes of “…whatever it takes to win in politics, …rig the economy or to …maximize profits” at the expense of the common good as being somehow acceptable.
In Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct (2002) P.M. Forni writes that “As we pull out all the stops in our frenzy of achievement, we often disregard the norms of civility …we become too busy, too goal-directed.”
The common good is lost in the mindset of self-aggrandizement, personal achievement and over-the-top consumption. The common good becomes a seeming drag to those who are totally focused on their personal goals. However, they forget that our country, our society, was built on the common good. Their fortunes were built on the foundations built by the members of the common good. We need to treat one another with civility and respect no matter our station in life. A focus on the common good is essential to the survival of our society. How can we make it fashionable again?