Finding Direction: The Common Good 2.6.0A
The characteristics of Growth (#16-#17) involve considering what is good for life, for independence, and for freedom – for me, but also for my neighbors, for strangers, and for the natural world. When we consider all of these together, this leads us to discover the common good. This questioning involves the logic of cause and effect, backward and forward in time. What results do we want in the long run? What might lead there? If we choose a specific action, what will be the result?
Learning this kind of thinking is based first on the example of the people that children observe, and then on a parent or teacher or mentor who also explains how the process of thinking works and empowers the child’s own decision making practice. As we grow, we gradually learn to foresee what the consequences might be. We gradually learn to choose our means as well as the ends we aim for.
The common good requires us to apply these choices not only to ourselves, but also to others, neighbors and strangers, and even all living things. In order to make our powers of reasoning, logic, and understanding strong, the causes and effects need to be examined. We need to see that the consequences of our choices extend far beyond ourselves. If we love life itself and love living things beyond ourselves, then we are required to examine both the means and the ends.
It is impossible to do only one thing – in the human world or the natural world. In all of life, all things are connected in webs of relationships.
Without Words We Cannot Think
“Ethics are limitations of freedom based on consideration for the welfare and feelings of others. They form a structure of morally proper action.” Christopher Vecsey, American Indian Environments (1980)