What the heck is the Common Good?

What the heck is the Common Good?

// By Jacqueline Brennan

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.

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1 Comment
  • The concept of common good has turned a corner. Most us are tired of battling government and money makers to create a healthy community. We are taking our voice to the community and it is working. We are not asking the government or money makers permission. We are working with Nonprofits and for profits in breaking down the silos that society has created.
    We must get back to the real issue and that is creating a healthy community. That means providing the communities with the resources available to them, opening doors to opportunity and giving them the choice to move forward with their lives.
    Let’s get past stereotyping and putting people in categories. Let’s look at the community of people and get back to creating trust, hope and letting them know their life matters.
    I believe people want to help. They want to be there for their fellowman and woman. But they do not know how to connect and that is what a group of us are doing. We are opening as many doors and opportunities as we can.
    We are starting a Teen Voice Magazine. This magazine will have all students 12 to 19 working in production, operations and finance to make it happen. They are writing the articles, telling us what they want to write about and designing all aspects. It is exciting, and our first issue is January 2019. This is really outside the box.
    It is outside the fishbowl entrepreneurship mentality. We are venturing outside the comfort zone. The amount of support and excitement we have had is incredible. Every time I mention this to someone they want to know more and are willing to help. This is off of my Young Writers Foundation and a 501c(3).
    Exciting things are going to happen as I mentor more nonprofits to see the difference of Fundraising and Philanthropy. We want the community excited and if they cannot give money then can give their time. We limit society’s needs by always looking at the money makers. People are willing to give their time or what they can and that is what we need to center on.
    Creating is Healthy Community means developing the trust and creating an environment they can see is working for them.

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