The “common good” is generally defined as what is good for all people. Point to any time in the history of human existence and we have often fallen short of true common good for all. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. In fact, that is the very essence of civil society – a group of individuals, organizations, and institutions hoping to live out the promise of advancing the common good. It is why that phrase, “advancing the common good,” is in Independent Sector’s mission statement.
One way to measure whether a society is working toward the common good is whether they have trust in each other and their collective institutions. But there is some unnerving news there. According to the most recent Edelman Trust Barometer, trust in all of our sectors – government, business, nonprofits, and media – is dramatically falling.
Why is this happening?
Robert Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, and a senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, has a new book out titled, The Common Good, and he has a theory as to why we’ve lost trust in the business, government, media, nonprofits, and each other.
“As economic inequality has widened, the moneyed interests have spent more and more of their ever-expanding wealth to alter the rules of the game to their own advantage,” Reich recently wrote on Salon.com. ”Too many leaders in business and politics have been willing to do anything to make more money or to gain more power – regardless of the consequences for our society.”
Many of us got involved in social good work for this reason – to fight back against the powers that are causing economic or social inequality. We are often working to advocate and convince lawmakers, funders, and other people in power to do more or do right.
Our collective mission toward the common good should give us hope.
As Reich states, “We have never been a perfect union; our finest moments have been when we sought to become more perfect than we had been. We can help restore the common good by striving for it and showing others it’s worth the effort.”
How are you working to restore or advance the common good? Let us know in the comments section below and be sure to join us for Upswell LA to connect with the other changemakers making progress toward this goal.