Our Common Good

Recently I have written several posts about the common good as it pertains to wearing masks. Last night on the news a young man said that he didn’t like people telling him what to do and he didn’t see the need to wear masks. It wasn’t a clip from summer time, it was recorded in the midst of this massive second wave of infections nationwide. It just strikes me as an overly libertarian view that does not consider there is a common good. And the common good is a matter of our faith.

Consider this analysis from Florida. The data shows that a rise in coronavirus infections in young people 25-34 foreshadows a rise in infections in people 65 and older by 4-10 days. The former group is more likely to remain mobile, out and about, while the latter group is more likely to remain at home with limited roving. There is no clear evidence that shows young people are spreading the infections to older people, but there is some correlation that is consistent across all data sets.

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This is not simply a current political question, It is a moral question.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church addresses the common good in paragraph 1906 in the section on “Participation in Social Life” as part of the section on “Life in Christ.”

1906 By common good is to be understood “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily.”26 The common good concerns the life of all. It calls for prudence from each, and even more from those who exercise the office of authority. It consists of three essential elements:

1907 – First, the common good presupposes respect for the person as such. In the name of the common good, public authorities are bound to respect the fundamental and inalienable rights of the human person. Society should permit each of its members to fulfill his vocation. In particular, the common good resides in the conditions for the exercise of the natural freedoms indispensable for the development of the human vocation, such as “the right to act according to a sound norm of conscience and to safeguard . . . privacy, and rightful freedom also in matters of religion.

1908 – Second, the common good requires the social well-being and development of the group itself. Development is the epitome of all social duties. Certainly, it is the proper function of authority to arbitrate, in the name of the common good, between various particular interests; but it should make accessible to each what is needed to lead a truly human life: food, clothing, health, work, education and culture, suitable information, the right to establish a family, and so on.

1909 – Finally, the common good requires peace, that is, the stability and security of a just order. It presupposes that authority should ensure by morally acceptable means the security of society and its members. It is the basis of the right to legitimate personal and collective defense

1910 – Each human community possesses a common good which permits it to be recognized as such; it is in the political community that its most complete realization is found. It is the role of the state to defend and promote the common good of civil society, its citizens, and intermediate bodies.

The teaching of our faith make it clear that the state has a role to promote and defend the common good. The community and family have a role to play, as does the individual. This Thanksgiving, at a minimum, it includes wearing a mask. It is not a libertarian question. It is a matter of the Faith.

2 thoughts on “Our Common Good

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