How to achieve a common good society

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The common good, a society that is fair to everybody (Screenshot via YouTube)

Successful societies should be built around a common good and we need to examine which political ideology is best, writes John Lord.

IF ROBERT KENNEDY was looking over my shoulder, he might tap me and say:

The gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages… It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom or our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.

I don’t think I have ever read words that so succinctly encapsulate what racism, materialism, capitalism, and narcissism have done to our society.

Robert Kennedy’s words, with staggering, perhaps unintended, prophecy, tell us why the upcoming election is the most important for three decades.

In the pursuit of profit, we have been prepared to forgo all that makes life worthwhile. Everything that degrades us as a society has been used by the ultra-Right to divorce us from those things we once took for granted. The simple things in life are no longer simple, to the point where we cannot discern the difference between what we want from what we need. We cannot distinguish money from inhumanity.

Can you imagine, as a nation, how much more advanced we would be if we had a common purpose over the past few decades instead of the vile negativity Tony Abbott and other like-minded politicians infused us with?

The cost of it in economic and societal terms we may never find out.

This election is about:

  1. what sort of democracy you want;
  2. what sort of society you want to live in; and
  3. what sort of condition do you want our planet left in.

Having said that, it is also possible that Morrison might turn it into an election based on race. I will, however, reserve judgment at this stage.  

Many things came to mind one day as I was walking my dog in 2016, but the one thing that stood out was the sense of self-entitlement that politicians have. As if just being a politician necessitated some form of self-indulgence that set them apart from the society they are supposed to represent.

My thoughts drifted to what I thought a society should be.

When, many years ago, the lady with the bad hairdo uttered her famous and dispassionate condemnation of the human species:

“There’s no such thing as society. There are individuals making their way. The poor shall be looked after by the drip-down effect from the rich.”


I was horrified. It was a statement that could only be expressed by someone with a deep sense of isolation, selfish indifference, or indulgence. Was she saying that families only consisted of individuals making their way without any dependency on the societal structure? The basic need to coexist and seek companionship.

We are, by nature, a herding animal. We form groups because no individual can survive without the assistance of others.

No man is an island,’ as John Donne said. Margaret Thatcher’s statement condemns us to class self-centeredness and serfdom.

Successful societies should be built around a common good and we need to examine which political ideology is best placed to build such a society.

Firstly, let’s ask ourselves what is an ideal society based on the assumption that it’s an attainment we may never accomplish, but nonetheless is a worthwhile aspiration. Even call me idealistic if you want.

In the modern Western sense, an enlightened society is a populace of men, women and children who, as a collective, desire to express their humanity, work, aspirations, spirituality, art, poetry and play with the richest possible diversity.

It cultivates a common good with equality of opportunity for all. A society where one’s sexual preference or gender is not a judgement upon your character and the colour of your skin says nothing about you other than perhaps your geographical place of birth.

A society that believes in individual pursuit, intellectual accomplishment and financial reward only regulated by what is beneficial for the common collective good.

In other words, everyone is entitled to an equitable share of society’s wealth.

If Abe Lincoln was looking over my shoulder he might say:

“Labour is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labour and could never have existed if labour had not first existed. Labour is the superior of capital and deserves much the higher consideration.”

A society where freedom of expression is guaranteed but limited only by the innate moral personal decency of the individual.

Where free speech is fair speech. An enlightened society in which the suggestion that we need to legislate ones right to hate another person is considered intellectually barren.

A society where the health and welfare of all is sacrosanct and access to treatment is guaranteed. Where the principle that we should treat others in the same manner as we expect them to treat us is indelible in the mind of every citizen. A society that respects science before myth and mysticism, but at the same time recognises the individual’s right to the expression of their own form of spirituality so long as it doesn’t hinder the common good.

A society that should be judged by its welcoming and how well it treats its most vulnerable citizens. By how well protected we are and how accessible the law is regardless of stature or wealth.

In democratic societies (the best, or least bad, form of government) our herding instincts are realised by the election of leaders who form government.

Even in the imperfection of democracy, we realise that a group mentality advances society better than dictatorial individuality.

So we need a government that is subservient to the will (the common good ethics) of the people and is responsive to the inclusiveness of public opinion.

It is government that decides and regulates the progress and ambitions of society. Or at least provides the environment in which to do so. There is very little that is done in the name of progress that cannot be attributed in some way to government.

Individual or collective ambition can only be achieved within a social structure built and controlled by government.

These are the wisest words ever spoken by a politician:

It is an absolute principle of democracy that governments should not and must not say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards. Nothing could be more calculated to bring our democracy into disrepute and alienate the citizenry of Australia from their government than if governments were to establish by precedent that they could say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards.

Unfortunately, a person so synonymous with the most repulsive lying said them, so it is doubtful that another will emerge to equal him in generations.

Currently, all over the world, we are experiencing a shift in power from government to those who control the means of production, financial institutions, the media, the rich and the privileged and large corporations.

Government by the people for the common good needs to be taken back. It is our entitlement, not theirs.

Catalyst is a word that describes something that is a defining reason for change, or it is what stimulates discussion about something that otherwise wouldn’t have taken place.

When I look at the past few years, the catalyst that might wake us from the political malaise we have been in has been staring us in the face. A quagmire of political self-importance. It’s the individual first, second and third.

Every part of society, when you think about it, has been indoctrinated with a nefarious “me first” attitude that has seen the common good almost vanish.

If a wise old man was advising you on its resurrection what might he say?

“How can I help you?” may be his opening words that spring from lips that form the beginning of a smile.

People need to wake up to the fact that government affects every part of their life (other than what they do in bed) and should be more interested. But there is a political malaise that is deep-seated.

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