What’s happened to the Common Good?

 24 July 2021 |

I chose to become a minister of religion, not a policeman. But in the days of Covid, I feel sometimes that is what I have become: a policeman! Trying to keep people safe – and everyone wants the church building to be a place of safety, don’t they? – has become a difficult and lonely role. During the second world war, everyone was responsible to make sure blackouts were up and effective – one light could show up in the night sky and be a target for bombers. We’ve all seen Dad’s Army and the constant vigilance on keeping the lights out. It is the same now – but this is about wearing face coverings and social distancing. Even though the government has eased up on the restrictions, churches are being asked to continue to ensure safety above all else is maintained.

Most people look out for one another. It has become, however, for some, ok to put yourself first, in our society; to make sure you’re ok, over and above everyone else. I was brought up, even if people didn’t always keep to it, with the idea that the Common Good overrode my personal desires and wants. It was a mark of good neighbourliness and a sign of common decency. But, sometimes I ask myself: where has that attitude gone?

Jesus, we are told in all the four gospels, fed the multitudes from the few loaves, and fishes, brought to the party by a small boy. The story goes that Jesus took what someone had and after saying thank you, shared it so everyone could have ‘as much as they wanted’. The miracle was that when this was shared there was still much left over to fill 12 baskets.

It is hard to live up to the standards set by Jesus and most of us fail. But perhaps when you think about whether you’ll wear a mask today, you might consider those who are vulnerable, the people who through illness have no immune system to protect them, those still not vaccinated and those already sick and vulnerable to catastrophic illness.