The Insight: Embracing the greater good


In philosophy, the common good refers to either what is shared and beneficial for all or most members of a given community.

Common good may also refer to   what is achieved by citizenship, collective action, and active participation in the realm of politics and public service. Aristotle one of the great philosophers that ever lived says the common good is constituted in the good of individuals.

In a workplace like UCU, driven by a fundamental motto of Alpha and Omega, this notion of common good must be embraced as the heartbeat of every staff or student.

Aesop, one of the ancient classical philosophers, narrated a fable of the belly and the members in the context of fulfilling the notion of the common good. The story runs as follows:

“One fine day it occurred to the Members of the Body that they were doing all the work and the Belly was having all the food.  So they held a meeting, and after a long discussion, decided to strike until the Belly consented to take its proper share of the work.

“So for a day or two, the Hands refused to take the food, the Mouth refused to receive it, and the Teeth had no work to do.  But after a day or two, the Members began to find that they themselves were not in a very active condition: the Hands could hardly move, and the Mouth was all parched and dry, while the Legs were unable to support the rest.

“Thus they found that even the Belly in its dull quiet way was doing necessary work for the Body, and that all must work together or the Body will go to pieces.”

The moral in this story is that we should work selflessly for the good of any society.

It is true that a few people may appreciate our contributions but this must never discourage us from working towards the establishment of a civil society. It is actually interesting that often people who are keen to enforcing common good are often harassed and viewed with envy by those who think they would have done the work better.

Those who work for the common good leave everlasting legacies. The best example to this fact is Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.

In his humility, his name has continued to shine globally, not because he tortured people or confiscated their properties.

He is apparently more pronounced than the Pharisees who thought he was taking over their power and influence. Their decision to eliminate Jesus was not based on the principle of the common   good but rather greed for power and control. This was indeed a path to self-destruction that must ever be isolated for the good of society.

The writer is a lecturer at the Foundation Studies Department.

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