May 14, 2013

Regarding Michael Gerson’s May 12 op-ed column “Elevated by the common good”:

As foundational and important as “the common good” has been in Christian social teaching for more than 150 years, is it not the “good of the commons” that must now engage our intellectual and religious energies in these perilous ecological times? To continue to focus on the well-being of the human community, divorced from a more paramount concern for the well-being of the larger community of all life — without which there is no future for any of us — seems to ignore reading the “signs of the times,” which has been the preferred methodology for interpreting the Christian message  from the beginning.

Jane Blewett, Sandy Spring

Michael Gerson’s advocacy for pursuing the common good is welcome, but his argument that it is a uniquely faith-based endeavor, especially the Christian faith, is needlessly parochial. The pursuit of the common good predates Christianity. For example, ancient Greek society, Hinduism and Buddhism all addressed or address the good of a community. Social anthropologists have shown that the groups millennia ago that looked out for the common good had more evolutionary success than those that did not, which should be a lesson for citizens and leaders in today’s United States.

Ken Brill, Bethesda

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