For the Common Good

Many of you know that my father was a politician. He served on the City Council of Huntsville for 12 years, and for many of those years, he served as the president of the council. My father loved the city of Huntsville. He thought moving to Huntsville gave him the chance to make life better for him and his family. Serving on the city council was my dad’s way of giving back to the city. He wanted to be sure everyone had the same chance he did to make their lives a little better.

Once, when he was campaigning, my father was asked what he was going to do for a certain section of Huntsville. He answered, “The same thing I’m going to do for every part of Huntsville. As I drive around town and talk to people, I’m finding out they all are concerned with pretty much the same things. They want safe neighborhoods to live in. They want good schools for their children. They want the roads to be paved and garbage to be picked up. We want everyone who lives in Huntsville to feel good about living here.”

Without knowing it, my Dad had stumbled across the concept of the “common good. “The “common good” understands that everyone—regardless of race, creed, or ethnic background—needs the same basic things to live a good life. By working toward these things that we all need, a community can best serve each individual within that community.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that the political system in America is messed up. The reason it’s messed up may surprise you. You see, too many of us—me included—have turned over the arena of politics to professional politicians. These are people who have never done anything else in their lives but run for and work in public office. The founders of our nation never intended for there to be a political class. Our nation was to be run by its citizens. That’s one reason public education is so important in America. We expect every citizen to be able to participate in the democratic process. That means everyone has to be able to read and think through ideas.

This also means that you and I need to be more involved in our nation’s political life. Run for office. Support a candidate. Attend school board meetings. Learn what’s going on. Write your representatives. Work for the common good.

Granted, our world is messed up, but Christ called us the “salt of the earth.” And it doesn’t take a whole lot of salt to change the taste of the whole dish. It wouldn’t take many good people—committed to the common good—to begin to turn things around in our nation. Get off the couch. Get in the game. This stuff matters. This stuff is for real.