These days, the vocabulary of the common good is liberally deployed in political, religious and charity sectors. But too often, the term is misapplied and misunderstood. When used to promote utilitarian or utopian ideas, it can provide cover for coercive ideologies that do more harm than good.
Such ideas are antithetical to the conception of common good in the Christian, Jewish and Aristotelean traditions, which are underpinned by fundamental human principles such as love, reciprocity, relationship, freedom and mutual respect.
Given this background, a coalition of organisations* is putting together a series of events to explore the meaning of the common good and the role of the family, society and government in its promotion.
The series consists of four discussions between June and November, and will feature Professor Philip Booth, Dr Sam Bruce, Lord Maurice Glasman, Ruth Gledhill, David Goodhart, Edward Hadas, Richard Harries, Lord Syed Kamall, Ruth Kelly, Danny Kruger MP, Mercy Muroki, Cristina Odone, Trevor Phillips, Jenny Sinclair, Caroline Slocock, and Julia Unwin.
The first event will explore how the common good in its true sense relates to a settled pluralism of identities and interests, the shared life of a society to which everyone freely contributes and is able to flourish and reach fulfilment. It will also explore how important that is given the background of current political discourse.
The second and third events will discuss the vital roles and responsibilities for families and society in building the common good, not least the importance of local institutions.
The fourth and final event addresses the crucial contribution of government in providing the policy backdrop, and its role in facilitating the responsibilities of all layers of society towards the promotion of the common good.
The first three events will be held online, while the last event will be held in-person at the Church of St. Mary Putney, home of the historic 1647 Putney Debates.
The events are open to all and take place from 6.30pm-8pm. The first three will be held via zoom on 15th June, 13th July, and 29th September, while the fourth will be on 16th November.
The series is organised in partnership by Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN), the Centre for Social Justice, the Benedict XVI Centre for Religion and Society at St. Mary’s University, and Together for the Common Good (T4CG). The series is supported by CCLA, one of the UK’s largest ethical fund managers, home of the new Catholic Investment Fund.
To register for one or more events, visit: http://bit.ly/CommonGood_series2021
Picture: Caritas Food Collective event, 2019. Re-used with consent from Diocese of Westminster.