A Missing Value? What Happened to the Common Good?

So, one of my faithful readers who comments privately sent me a very interesting message.  She noted that while Americans have retained our fierce individualism, we seem to have lost the value placed on the common good.  Policy changes in the US seem to be very quickly eroding programs that used to care for the common good.

World-wide we hear about the issues with public schools in the US.  The No Child Left Behind program seems to have specifically left all children behind.  Public schools provide educations that seem to be sub-standard in most states.  The environment is also a bit dicey at many public schools.  With more and more money going to fight wars (that we have no business being in… I’m just saying), less and less is available to hire and train quality teachers.  And, bottom line, your child’s education is as good as their teacher.

Add to that the drastic cuts to programs that provided coverage for the poorest Americans and the public good does seem to be well and truly dead as an American value.  And yet… is it?  Somehow the high level of rhetoric on both sides of the political aisle seem to be polarizing people and making the hesitant to appear as one or the other.  After all, both sides look particularly bad these days, I’d rather the associated with choice c.  None of the Above.  But what about public good?

One thing we haven’t seen change is America’s empathy with those in tough situations.  When Hurricane Katrina hit our area before the move, we saw aid and prayer pouring out.  Americans showed themselves to be as willing to give in a big way as they have historically been.  What seems to have happened is that Americans are generous, but bowing to policy that makes them seem uninterested in the plight of the “other.”  I’m not convinced it’s intentional, but it is what is happening.

My firm and sincere hope is that we see the America John Zoghby saw in his book come to fruition.  This would be the America that isn’t represented by the polarization of the parties.  I also hope we’ll see people begin to think beyond themselves to their neighbors, their state-mates, and their fellow countrymen.  If people will stop pushing a political agenda and start thinking with their hearts about fellow humans, I think change will come in the political parties rather abruptly.  After all, it becomes a requirement for survival.

Happy Goodness!

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2 thoughts on “A Missing Value? What Happened to the Common Good?

  1. But isn’t the fundamental philosophy of the US economic system at odds with common good? I think it took the system some time to pluck the common good of the American society and replace it with fully fledged furious dehumanizing competition, where the materialistic growth is what matters, and humans are nothing but resources! If they benefit the system then they should be cared for and continuously educated, if not then let them survive on their own, and we will turn a blind eye to their miseries and sufferings!

    Seriously, you guys should demand more instituted social security (in par with that found in western Europe) and less convenient stores and services. I don’t know how much Apple spent on making their ipad2 a couple millimetres thinner and 2 grams lighter, but I think the amount spent could have definitely helped, at least, a number of public schools or/and hospitals in dire need of money.

    • Haitham, I’m not sure one is truly at odds with the other. However, it seems that the US has been leaning that way. However, honestly, suggesting social security ala Western Europe shows a failure to grasp the sheer size and complexity that is America. Much as the Arab nations must find an Arab democracy, America must find an American common good program. There is no way that the US wouldn’t buckle trying to provide services and social benefits like small, homogenous European countries… ;). Thanks for your thoughts, man.

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