The Common Good is a glorious and wondrous empathetic dream, the prime motivating force that drove the best that American has yet produced. But let’s get real. That’s only one part of the story.
Here is why I created this site: I am making an appeal to the citizenry of the United States to develop an ethic of care in our political parties and platforms, in our laws and customs and ways of relating with each other in communities and states and nations. I include in this appeal the recognition that this ethic of care must extend to all living things and the planet, too.
An ethic of care, with its counterpart The Common Good, is not the prime motivating force in today’s US. And it has never been fully manifest in this country or any other of which I am aware. It has been discussed by the collective human mind for at least 2300 years yet it has never been fully manifest anywhere.
Why is this?
Because The Common Good has often reflected only the interests of people with citizenship standing, which is a significant power, and that means the interests of other people living in the country, those not classed as citizens, have been left out. When The Common Good of US citizens was considered at the signing of the Constitution in 1787, the term reflected the interests of only the 1.6 million or so males who were considered citizens then – men and boys who were white, free, or not indentured by slavery, and who owned land. But the interests of women, African slaves, Native Americans and non-land-owners weren’t included because they were not considered citizens.
In sharp contrast, when The Common Good of the US is considered today, it (in the ideal sense) would include the collective experience of all citizens in the country – all 324 million of us – men and boys, but also women, girls, rich, poor, landowners, and the homeless, and thanks to an evolving definition of who were valued as human beings, The Common Good would now also (ideally) include those who are healthy, sick, able-bodied, disabled, heterosexual, homosexual, European, African, and Asian, Central American, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist, and so on.
This has significance because, for the first US citizens, the white, land-owning males, The Common Good embraced only their interests, which they believe made them an entitled class with the right to exploit others, which they did. First they stole the land occupied by Native American nations across the east coast, and eventually laid claim to the entire US, minus some small resource-poor areas they left for Native American reservations. Then, as they spread across the US, they used millions of miles of that land for roads, homes, farms, and businesses, many of which did irreparable, toxic, and life-crushing damage to just about everything – mountains, forests, shorelines, lakes, and any place rich with oil. They also laid claim to all wild animals, and consequently untold millions of foxes, raccoons, deer, and beavers were killed for fur trade industries, and millions of buffalo, coyotes, bears, whales, fish, birds, geese, and ducks were hunted for food and recreation.
But worst of all, during the first few hundred years of US history, an estimated 20 to 150 million (no one knows more exact numbers) Native American men, women, and children were killed through wars, turf conflicts, revenge raids, military massacres, starvation, death marches, measles, and smallpox. Even today, most remaining Native Americans live in poverty and ill health, and are still confronting the U.S. government for control of their lands.
And between the late 1500’s to the late 1900’s an estimated 15,000,000 men and women were kidnapped from Africa, sold into slavery in the Americas, and died as slaves. Today their descendants and other black people suffer disproportionately from inequities in education, housing, income, and health care and suffer the cruelty of unlawful imprisonment and widespread corporate pollution, among other tragedies.
As the nation’s citizenry stole the land of the Natives and stole the backbreaking free labor of the slaves, they also exploited other classes of people for free labor, most notably the classes of all women and children in the US, and turned all they stole into great wealth, although even today enjoyed by only the few. Women acquired voting rights only about one hundred years ago, and children only acquired legal protections for their labor about that time, too.
Since this site primary references events in the US, I will not address the immoral exploitation done by the US government outside our country, although no less serious violations of The Common Good. I include only a summary of the evil atrocities committed against peoples of other nations and the natural world: wars, bombings, torture, false imprisonment, the wounding and killing of civilians, the toppling of dictators or their assassinations and the installment of new political regimes, the plunder of other nation’s resources, and the destruction of cities, farmland, waterways, and archaeological treasures. All of which caused misery and death to millions of people and the destruction or poisoning of millions of miles of land and rivers and oceans. All with no legal accountability or repercussions to the US. Just shameful. Just pure evil.
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If we are to embrace The Common Good, the principle that just might assist in the movement for meaningful changes, it’s important to acknowledge a few things.
First, The Common Good has benefited the class in power, and for a few hundred years that meant the white, male, land-owners who were the only people with citizenship status. It has never benefited everyone living here, and still doesn’t today.
Second, The Common Good enjoyed by the few has always been enjoyed to the hellish detriment of everyone else. Throughout the nation’s history, The Common Good of the few came at great cost to the many – horrendous cost to millions of other people, other species, and the very land itself. The great wealth and peak achievements that were produced were only made possible by the gut-wrenching atrocities of genocide, slavery, the exploitation of women, children, and immigrants for their work, and many other evils. You could even say that The Common Good of the few came as a result of The Common Evil done to the many. Done even today, in the US and every other place on earth.
The third point is the most important – we must acknowledge that evil exists and that it shapes the lives of most of humanity. And of most other living creatures on this planet we all share. The Common Evil has never been acknowledged anywhere at any time of which I am aware, and yet it characterizes the living conditions of most people throughout all history. I define evil here as war and the suffering of the men conscripted to fight war and the families they left behind, and slavery, poverty, hunger, homelessness, inadequate health care, child abuse, sexual abuse, gross income inequality, animal neglect and abuse, pollution of the natural world, and about a hundred other toxic things. Its what defines your life if you are most people in the world, and most other life on earth. How heinous a thought.
Fourth, after we acknowledge the evil done by our country and confront its horrible consequences, we must learn more about why humans do such cruel things, why evil exists, and what we can do to stop it. Most important, we must learn more about psychopathy and psychopaths who hold political office and the damage they have done and continue to do. We must engage neurologists, geneticists, psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, historians, and political scientists to prioritize this task.
Fifth, we must now work towards caring about The Common Good in our present and future politics. The ideal of The Common Good, which, as stated earlier, is the political version of The Golden Rule, could be a powerful motivating force for change.
Finally, sixth, if we consciously work towards The Common Good in our shared political lives, we may be able to confront and possibly even solve the deadly problems currently staring humanity directly in the face.
I believe this may be possible because all the best peak achievements the US people have created they have come as more and more people were added to the power roles as citizens. Most of our best contributions to human society occurred after slavery ended and after women were added to the citizen class. So it seems that as more people became citizens, what The Common Good entailed changed. For the early US settlers, The Common Good involved procurement of land, resources, and wealth. But a few hundred years later, as all the qualifying people were recognized a citizens, The Common Good took on a more expansive meaning to include peak achievements in the sciences, technology, medicine, higher education, literature, art, music, and much more.
So a fully conscious and well-orchestrated effort by the majority of US citizenry, with The Common Good as our moral compass, just might possess enough innate imagination and genius to find solutions for the most difficult problems ever encountered by our species in our 200,000 year old lifespan.
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I started this site to propose an idea that just might assist in the movement for meaningful changes, changes in how we think and act and relate with others. Hopefully, these changes will not be made too late, because this may be the most dangerous time in the history of the US, indeed of all human civilization.
Many people are terrified by the horrific problems confronting human beings at this moment that have a good chance of causing our extinction, or at least, a dramatic end to civilization as we know it. Many of us are terrified by the rise of psychopathic leaders and authoritarian states, by the potential decline of America in domestic and foreign affairs, by nuclear war and radiation, and by the man-made destruction of the natural environment and climate change.
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But before we address these horrific extinction-causing events, it would help to take a look at what may be the most important reason we have arrived here.
It is my opinion that the main reason for the horrible state we are in is this: humans built a culture based on obedience to God’s first commandment. The deep story, the driving force that pushed human beings to create our world civilization, is this: in the Genesis myth of creation, God gave man the status of entitled child for whom all living things were his possessions to do with as he pleased. Because of the belief in this creation myth, the human species became the most dangerous predatory monster the world has ever known.
“Humans exploit their surroundings. Human needs are in opposition to the natural world. Otherwise, why would politicians say we need to balance the economy against the environment? Balance implies opposition. Whether it’s a God-given right or an evolutionarily ordained mandate, humans chop down trees, deprive all others of their habitat. It’s what we do.
But to believe this is to mistake civilization for humanity, an unforgivable and fatal error. One of the central myths of our culture concerns the desirability of growth, a parasitic expansion to fill and consume our host. This was manifest from the beginning, as Genesis says:
‘And God blessed them and God said to them, be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth, and have dominion over the fish in the sea and over the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves upon the ground.’
From its opening to its endgame, civilization has been nothing if not consistently narcissistic, domineering, and exploitative.”
After a few thousands years of belief in its predatory entitlement, and a few thousand years worth of predatory behaviors that resulted from it, humanity is faced with the most precarious situation it has ever faced. Belief in this story and in the superiority of people over other creatures may well be driving us to our extinction. So if we are to fully embrace the ideal of The Common Good, we have to confront one of our deepest myths – the myth of human supremacy. Because the two are just not compatible.
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I can think of four potentially extinction-causing problems directly caused by this creation myth.
1. A Concentration of Psychopathic Leaders. Political ponerology, that is, the study of evil in political systems and leaders, is a new field of study. There are no experts to consult on what countries today are ruled by psychopathic leaders and what countries are ruled by normal, or non-psychopathic leaders. We do know about a number of authoritarian regimes which include Russia, Cuba, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, China, North Korea, and a few dozen others. Important features of these psychopathic authoritarian regimes are that rulers or a small hand-picked group make all decisions, control the media through approved propaganda, command obedience through laws, imprisonment, or physical coercion, and place severe limitations on civil liberties, individual freedoms, and political elections.
What may be of equal importance in studying political ponerology is how many authoritarian leaders are complicit with psychopathic corporations and mega-wealthy people who invest heavily in selected authoritarian governments. We may not have precise information about these yet, but we can say that there are many psychopathic, and therefore evil, men in power who have access to all the money they need to run the world as they wish. And evil men in power are complicit with the two most dangerous problems humanity has ever faced. One is nuclear weapons, and two is environmental destruction and climate change, which are fatally changing the home we live on – the earth, with the land, water, air, forests, mountains, and oceans we need to live. The tumultuous conditions in our earthly home are now ripe for a perfect storm.
Any psychopathic political leaders or corporate CEOs would thrive in cultures steeped in the human supremacy myth. Leaders would by their genetic engine gravitate to the top of a hierarchy structure. Such cultures would be conservative and fundamentalist religious and political organizations. The morality systems advanced by these groups would be miles apart from any supported by The Common Good.
2. Big Money and Failing Empire. In 1816, Thomas Jefferson said that the great American experiment in democracy, and the defeat of the US, will come when the government falls into the hands of banks and big business. Democracy cannot thrive where capitalism persists. Jefferson showed such prescience with his wisdom! And here we are today, as big money, big banks, and big corporations frame America’s political parties, elections, laws, and judicial practices, shaping the lives of all 324 million of us.
And with America’s demise, what would become of the conditions merging towards the perfect storm? Could a massive surge of US citizen activists generate the will and power to stand up to corporate interests and the Congresspeople they have lobbied, enough to make some real changes? Enough to end The Citizens United Bill, gerrymandering, and restrictive voter suppression laws? Enough to increase the minimum wage to a livable wage? Enough to take on, with the aid of the Judiciary Branch, the corruption of Wall Street and Big Banks?
Is it too late to have any hope that these changes, or any others, could really happen?
I think not, it may not be too late. But this hope holds on to one caveat. No matter what other supplemental forces may be fighting for change – the media or the internet, the ACLU and other Human Rights Attorneys, the Federal House or Senate, the State Governors or Congresspeople – unless there is a massive group of US citizens, informed, awake, passionate, and committed activist citizens – who are willing to push the movement from below and pull the movement up, up to the very top – unless there exists this massive activist group, then, I am afraid there is no hope.
3. Nuclear War and Radiation. Nine countries in the world possess a total of 14,900 nuclear weapons. The United States and Russia account for 93 percent of them. Thirty-one countries possess 435 nuclear power plants. Sufficient radiation leakage from even a few of them would last many thousands or even millions of years. All life on earth would be severely damaged or killed. Some bacteria, viruses, cockroaches, and water bears (tiny micro-animals) would survive. Maybe they would jump start new lines of evolution, long after humans are gone.
What would the water-bears descendants look like in 2 million years? Would they have psychopathic genes and develop psychopathic leaders and destroy themselves eventually, too? Or would genes for mutual cooperation and empathy drive them to form societies serving The Common Good?
4. Man-Made Environmental Destruction and Climate Change. Destructive human behaviors are raising the planet’s temperature, changing world-wide weather patterns, increasing extreme weather events, causing the Arctic and Antarctic sea ice to melt, and destroying the air we and other animals breath by increasing pathogens and pollutants like natural waste, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and ground level ozone just to name a few evil life crushing things. The most dramatic climate change scientists claim we have maybe 5 years, maybe 10 years, before the human species is extinct or drastically reduced in numbers, with human civilization, the sum total of 200,000 years of genius and toil, wiped out.
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Will we be on time? Will we be too late? Will enough normal people, that is, people who have respect for The Golden Rule and The Common Good, in the US and across the world, bond together to get woke, stay woke, disobey authority and stop these cascading evils before humans and other living creatures become extinct?
Contemplating the potential effects of these four conditions is terrifying and sobering. Human civilization is on a collision course with time. How much time is anyone’s guess. Maybe 10 years. Maybe more. Maybe 5 years. Maybe less. Is this prognosis too dramatic? How would you assess the future after breathing in the air of the times?
Living conditions including adequate supplies of healthy food and water and air and land will become less sustainable in coming years. There will be further migrations of climate change refugees and local infighting for resources, then more conflicts will develop as people try to get what they need for themselves and their families.
The survivors, after initial shock, destruction, and death will have some choices to make. Will they disintegrate into fierce competition and conflict, and give rise to the same mistakes that led civilization to its end in the first place?
Or will they form into small tribes, much like we did early in our evolution, and band together and work cooperatively and make a new civilization based on common need and caring for each other?
Will they continue to believe in the myth of human superiority or will they create a new creation myth to frame a new civilization?
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“Politics appears to be the master art for it includes so many others and its purpose is the good of man. While it is worthy to perfect one man, it is finer and more godlike to perfect a nation, which has the purpose The Common Good of men.” – Aristotle, circa 320 BCE