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Common good: nature and import

LET IT be noted that strictly speaking, just as the ethical actions or moral actuations of someone are brought to actuality in doing what is good, in the same way, the acts and actuations of society achieve their ultimate finality when they bring about the common good of its constituents. So it is that the common good is understood as the “social and community dimension” of the ethical norms or moral standards of a given society.

In other words, the common good – its nature and import – has immediate reference to every major aspect of social life in line with the dignity of every human person, the latter’s well-being as a whole in substantive equality with everybody else.

Equal opportunities for all members of society to benefit from as equitably as possible – this is the “Principle of the Common Good” in plain and simple language. But more categorically speaking, the common good indicates the sum total of the social conditions which allow people either as groups or as individuals to reach their self-fulfilment more fully and more readily. Otherwise, the good would favor but a privileged few. Otherwise, the bad would be a burden to all others.

It is nevertheless assumed that the said fulfilment accept variance from one individual to another – in the sense that while there are some individuals whose self-fulfilment is readily felt with few and simple social benefits, there are however those who have some kind of a strong feeling and consequent conviction plus the perceived consequent vested right that they need and wherefore demand so much more to be fulfilled. It is good that these people are by and large the exception to the rule of ordinary individuals in pursuit of ordinary personal good.

It has to be pointed out that beneficial social conditions are the major agenda of public authority precisely because the latter do not only have the commitment to do so but also because they have the ethical force and moral authority and obligation to do it.

This in no way means that every individual should not contribute their possibilities for the emergence of the common good in society. It simply says that the reality of the common good is the direct concern and responsibility of public officials committed and obliged to render public service which can be said as the motor of the common good.

The observation made above notwithstanding, considering the composition and objective of human society, it remains a realistic truth that every member of the human community has his/her responsibility for the reality, the emergence, improvement, and continuity of the common good therein. Otherwise, there would be no honest-to-goodness tenable reason why someone who thinks and acts as if he/she has nothing to do in order to promote the common good, could legitimately claim any right to be benefited by the same beneficial reality.

Such an individual is ultimately a social liability in the sense that he/she claims something without in effect giving anything – just like someone who shouts his rights while not minding his obligations, which is some kind of hypocrisy incarnate.

One thing is clear and certain, after all is said and done: The common good is strictly and closely connected with the respect for every human person – more concretely in conjunction with the protection and promotion of his/her fundamental rights, the summit of which is the right to life./PN



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