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The Global Common Good

Rediscovering the Common Good

The Global Common Good
Friday, November 5, 2021

In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis urges Christians to consider the long-term effects of our actions which impact the future well-being of the human species, all living things, and our planet itself:

The notion of the common good also extends to future generations. The global economic crises have made painfully obvious the detrimental effects of disregarding our common destiny, which cannot exclude those who come after us. We can no longer speak of sustainable development apart from intergenerational solidarity. Once we start to think about the kind of world we are leaving to future generations, we look at things differently; we realize that the world is a gift which we have freely received and must share with others. . . . Intergenerational solidarity is not optional, but rather a basic question of justice, since the world we have received also belongs to those who will follow us. The Portuguese bishops have called upon us to acknowledge this obligation of justice: “The environment is part of a logic of receptivity. It is on loan to each generation, which must then hand it on to the next.” [1]

Theologian Daniel Scheid offers a prayerful approach to this expansive way of thinking, what he calls the “cosmic common good”:

The cosmic common good provides a larger moral perspective, but it also exhorts us to “sink our roots deeper” into our native place and to work for the good of our place on Earth. The cosmic common good enjoins us to adopt and intensify the many Earth-oriented personal daily choices and movements for structural change with which we are already familiar, for example reducing consumption and energy use, eating less or no meat, minimizing our dependence on automobiles. . . .

Sinking our roots in our native place on this fertile Earth, but with the larger perspective of the cosmic common good, may we become like the righteous, “like a tree planted near streams of water, that yields its fruit in season,” whose “leaves never wither,” and that “whatever [we do] prospers” (Psalm 1:3–4). May the larger perspective of the cosmic common good inspire us to live and to work for the good of all members of this vast and wondrous cosmos:

for the poor, the vulnerable, and all those imperiled;
for the contexts in which creatures flourish, and for the greater wholes of
which they are a part;
for the order in creatures, by which they glorify the Creator;
for the good that creatures provide to other creatures;
for the good of the order of creatures, by which the cosmos is sustained;
for the emergent universe and the communion of subjects;
for the solidarity that binds us to all creatures;
for the promotion of justice for all creatures;
for the sacred that lies in the innermost being in all creatures;
for greater nonviolence and peace;
for the interdependence that shines like a jewel within all creatures;
for all of our relations above, below, and around us;
and for the land and this plot of Earth by which creatures come to discover
the cosmos at home. [2]

References:
[1] Pope Francis, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, encyclical, May 24, 2015, paragraph 159.

[2] Daniel P. Scheid, The Cosmic Common Good: Religious Grounds for Ecological Ethics (Oxford University Press: 2016), 181–182.

Story from Our Community:
Dorothy Day visited my high school around 1963 and said, “If you have two coats in the closet, give one to the poor.” That was quite a discussion around our GOP-devoted parents’ dinner table. I never forgot the words of this modest woman, who became a guiding light with that simple challenge. —Barbara C.

Learn more about the Daily Meditations Editorial Team.

Image credit: Rose B. Simpson, River Girls in situ (detail), 2019, sculpture. Photo by Kate Russell. Used with permission.
We featured the artist of these sculptures, Rose B. Simpson, at our recent CONSPIRE conference—so many of us were impacted by her creations that we decided to share her work with our Daily Meditations community for the month of November.
Image Inspiration: This is a piece that was specifically about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. It was about empowerment and companionship and the moment of heartbreak and how do we find strength to create a new reality. I called them River Girls because there was a young girl from my tribe that was found in the river real close to my studio as I was making these. I made these pieces and every bead on their arms was a prayer, every day that I worked in the clay was a prayer for strength and for protection and for clarity… —Rose B. Simpson, from CONSPIRE Interview, 2021
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