The fifth and final principle for creating the kind of future envisioned in the novel, The Doorkeeper’s Secrets is supporting the Common Good. In many ways, this is the most important of the five.
Without the “leveling” influence of the Common Good, each of the other four principles could be distorted—either deliberately or by the over-enthusiastic supporters.
For example, Faith could be turned into an exclusive measuring rod projecting one interpretation as superior to all others. Vigilance could be shaped into mob-like squashing any deviance from the “accepted norm.” Even community can become a collection of people who look and think alike; effectively banning anyone with new ideas or perspectives. Finally, Respect could be interpreted from a self-serving perspective: “if you don’t respect me, I don’t have to respect you” attitude.
However, the Common Good serves as a check against the various abuses that can be misconstrued from the other four. The Common Good becomes the fertile soil where Community Respect and Faith can take root to produce fruit enjoyed by all. Likewise, Vigilance takes up its stand to “ensure the Common Good;” not to impose the will of one group over another.
When each of the five principles remains in balance, we have a built-in guard against the excesses which seem to inevitably arise out of human nature. Human nature is imperfect, so there will be people who resist any limitation on their so-called freedom.
In our culture “freedom” has been used as an excuse to enshrine excesses. A common axiom is “One person’s freedom ends when it infringes on another’s right.” I don’t have the freedom to construct a house on someone else’s property. In like manner, no one has the “freedom” to end another person life by violence. Yet it happens every day—and we continue to debate the right of gun ownership, opposed the right to live with less fear for the safety of ourselves and our children.
Suppose we replaced the current axiom with another. “One’s freedom is unlimited until it threatens the Common Good.” That is the basis of my vision of the future. There will be more discussion of weapons and safety for the future in later blogs. For now, let’s look at the role Common Good plays in shaping a positive speculative future.
It’s easy to identify things that diminish the Common Good. Listing a few might be helpful in establishing some of the parameters to our thinking.
So, what inhibits support for the Common Good? Inequalities of any kind: racial, gender, age, lineage, nationality, education, financial rewards, physical strength, honors, weapons, or power over others. We could name other places where there are imbalances in our society: access to health care, clean water, healthy food, knowledgeable advocates, jobs with advancement potential, warmth in the winter, and comfort in the summer. Of course, any of us can add to the list.
The goal of the Common Good is not to reduce everyone to the lowest common denominator, but to encourage and enhance everyone’s gifts for the good of all. There will always be differences—it is our differences that give every life value.
One person is a skilled artist, and another can’t draw a stop sign. Assuming the artist desires to pursue art—the goal of creating the “best” for all is to encourage and enhance the artist, so that we may ultimately enjoy or appreciate the art. The Common Good is served when people are encouraged and supported in doing what they enjoy.
But the good of all is not served by having an excess of mediocre artists (or doctors, or teachers, or any other profession). In my vision of the future, there comes a point when those who are performing less than adequately will be encouraged to think about their next career. At some later time, it may become more than a suggestion. Standards for each profession are clear, and regular evaluations confirm progress or suggest issues needing attention. These standards are created and reviewed by practitioners with input from clients for each service.
The Doorkeeper’s Secrets version of the future has everyone receiving sufficient income to meet all their needs, have adequate housing, healthy food, highest quality medical care, transportation wherever they need to go, and education to train or re-train for any job for which one qualifies (by temperament and intellectual capacity). The Common Good is served when stress and worry over these things are minimized. Then one can give their attention to their families, their work, and their avocations (hobbies and services).
So, friends, tell me what you think about this kind of future. Does the concept of increasing the Common Good introduce some sanity into some of our current discussions? I’d love to hear your thoughts.