Individualism or common good?
If we were given a choice between these two opposites, I’d wager that most of us would choose the “common good”! Even the words sound out their meaning: three syllables and four rounded letters that sound warm, as if arms were suggesting an action! “Individualism,” on the other hand, has seven syllables and four pointed “i” letters that seem to sound staccato, easily pronounced that way too! Words matter!
And so do actions! If we were to consider how we act, how many of us reach toward another? Think in terms of the other? Plan and act as if we could lay down our ego and automatically think, plan, act for and with the others, the common good? My observation is that good parents will think, plan, act for their child’s good. Even children, if taught to do so, will share their toys, their lunch, their color crayons, even if done under parental duress!
But what happens to us, later on, when we reach the age of reason? When we discover our own power to choose? To control rather than listen to, respect, work with and for the good of the whole? Have we reached again a shallow and selfish age? Do we need conversion? Is it time to reclaim the neglected common good and learn how our faith and love of…who we really are and what we can be…might help instead of hurt, heal and transform our personal and public lives, our political decisions, our dreams for Western civilization which, in my opinion, has virtually lost its sense of the Golden Rule, the mystery of our innate connectedness with God-among-us-and-between-us!
I often find myself singing a song from yesteryear about the theme:
“Lord, teach us to pray; it’s been a long and cold December kind of day.
With our hands and hearts all busy in our private little wars,
We stand and watch each other now from separate shores…
We lose the way!”
What do you think? Tell me, please! What shall we do? YOU and I?
Renée Domeier, OSB