Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo observed:
“ We believe in a government strong enough to use words like “love” and “compassion” and smart enough to convert our noblest aspirations into practical realities https://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mariocuomo1984dnc.htm. Governor Cuomo’s words speak urgently to the need to be mindful and to work for the common good in our society.
Currently, we are witnessing a lot of fracturing of various demographic constituencies. The tech entrepreneur in San Francisco may have absolutely no knowledge nor appreciation for the life of a struggling dairy farmer in New Hampshire and vice versa. As a people we have become siloed into our respective enclaves where some people can look the same and think the same way.
Malvena Reynolds said it well in her song “ Little Boxes “
“ And the people in the houses
All went to the university
Where they were put in boxes
And they came out all the same
And there’s doctors and lawyers
And business executives
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same. “
There maybe security in the notion that somehow, we are a part of the same herd, but in reality, the country we live in is far more diverse, racially, culturally, religiously. We need to appreciate the rich contrasts between people in our society and yet we also need to address what can be the potential good outcome for all of the people.
Education, especially higher education, has always been perceived as the ladder that helps people rise in their mobility in order to achieve a better quality of life. There was a time when higher education was affordable, even free in some states like California. What happened over time was that the cost of providing a good education skyrocketed including paying higher salaries to administrators like university chancellors.
The recent scandal of bribery and fraud involving applicants from wealthy families applying to schools like Harvard, Yale, University of Southern California point to this egregious sense of entitlement and privilege that really says that there is no need to abide by the rules. If you have power, influence, and economic clout, then by all means use it, no matter the consequences.
Here the idea of the common good gets trampled.
The writer of the book of Micah argued that
“ And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God “ ( Micah 6: 8 ).
The idea here is that justice, compassion and mercy matter. When these qualities are gone it can lead some people and their respective constituencies to behave as if they were using only their reptile brain. Thus, there will inevitably be a lot of fighting, a lot of discord and a lot of blood on the floor.
The belief in the common good really articulates that all people matter, no matter their background, ethnicity, economic standing, race, gender, religion or non-religion.
E Pluribus Unum ( out of many one ) has been the motto of our country.
We need to further consider how that motto can become more manifested as a reality for all of us; more than a “ United We Stand “ bumper sticker.
We can continue to travel together into the future knowing that all of us count and that our lives are precious.
May it be so.