THE EDITOR: The “common good” is the facilities – material, cultural or institutional – that members of a community provide to all in order to fulfil a relational obligation they all have to care for certain interests that they have in common.
The most cogent examples of the common good are water and air that are essential for life. Water and air can be polluted or, like in TT, some communities may have problems accessing clean drinking water.
A society cannot function and be united if the common good is not a major part of the political and social reality. One practical manifestation of the common good is the public good.
Public good is a product that an individual can consume without reducing its availability to others and from which no one is deprived. Examples of public good include law enforcement, national defence, sewer systems, and community parks.
The modern democratic reality in TT is based on divisive politics. It’s us against them. Politicians practise divide and rule. My party, my class (rich or poor, uptown or downtown) and, yes, the criminals that are destroying TT; they are against us.
Even the criminals are products of our political and social systems. They are the people who made bad decisions when dealing with unfavourable socio-economic conditions. If you just punish them without dealing with the conditions that created them you are not solving the social problem.
Confrontation focuses our emotional energies on the singular goal of winning over the other side. As we become consumed in this mindset, we re-enact partisan patterns of conflict that may comfort our fears but undermine co-operation. Strong loyalty to “our side” makes it forbidden to break ranks, no matter what our leaders adopt.
When we feel an assault on our sacred values – the core of our identity – our anger turns to outrage, hardening the lines of division. The point is to be aware that it is a system of social control to influence the populace to support a particular political party. This is what is happening in Europe, the US and the Caribbean including in TT politics. The racial divide in TT’s politics is only a tool of control.
To heal the nation, politics must emphasise the common good or it is mere divisive politics.
The common good is achieved when we work together to improve the wellbeing of people in our society and the wider world. The rights of the individual to personal possessions and community resources must be balanced with the needs of the disadvantaged and dispossessed.
This is an alternative perpective that has helped nations to rise. Whether it be Egypt, Spain, England, the US or China, the country rises when the people are convinced that their country provides or facilitates them with their material and social needs – the common good. They then work fiercely for the common good.
BRIAN E PLUMMER