Some six or seven years ago Walter Brueggemann wrote
The great crisis among us is the crisis of “the common good,” the sense of community solidarity that binds all in a common destiny—haves and have-nots, the rich and the poor. We face a crisis about the common good because there are powerful forces at work among us to resist the common good, to violate community solidarity, and to deny a common destiny. Mature people, at their best, are people who are committed to the common good that reaches beyond private interest, transcends sectarian commitments, and offers human solidarity.
Promotion of the common good is a foundational principle of Catholic Social Thought; it has been termed one of the “permanent principles of the Church’s social doctrine.”
From the perspective of the Church’s teachings, the common good involves recognition and advancement of the universal dignity of the human person. Guadium et Spes defines the common good as “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily.” This common good–the protection and promotion of the dignity of the human person–must be the primary orientation of society.
Because of the primacy of promoting the common good, Catholic Social Thought demands that it must be the aim of every human institution to promote human dignity, to promote the fundamental rights of persons to life, bodily integrity, and “the means that are suitable for the proper development of life.”
I believe Breuggemann was and is correct that we face a crisis about the common good, that “there are powerful forces at work among us to resist the common good, to violate community solidarity, and to deny a common destiny.” Those forces are not the result of any single political party or of any one person or groups of persons. (There is plenty of blame to go around here, and my purpose is not to make judgments about fault.)
We need a re-commitment to the common good. We must look beyond private interests and work to promote the dignity of all human persons. This is a mission that is not just for the benefit of some, but for all of us.