Friday, March 8, 2019

Who Are You Calling Common?

We are asked to seek the Common Good. What is the Common Good? What does it look like and how do we do it? I started by looking up what "common good" happened on Feb 24th, the day I wrote this. I found out: 

In 1983, a special commission of the Congress released a report condemning the Japanese internment during World War II - almost 40 years late, but that advanced the common good.

In 1979 Stamford, Texas, the highest price ever paid for a pig was made...$42,500.  The pig's name was Glacier. I think it was more for the common breakfast.

In 1977, US President Jimmy Carter announces US foreign aid will consider human rights before giving aid. Definitely for the common good.

In 1985, Yul Brynner revised stage role in The King and I. I saw was for the common good.

In '74, Pakistan officially recognizes Bangladesh. Not sure what took so long, perhaps the country changed its hair style or something, but that was a common good.

Back in 1938, DuPont begins commercial production of nylon toothbrush bristles for Dr. West's Miracle Toothbrush. For sure, that was for the common good and the lives of pigs, like Glacier, too. Previous to this, toothbrush bristles were made from pig hair.

And in 1924, pacifist and spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi was released from jail. Absolutely for the common good, as he dedicated his life to the common good.
All life is bound together by One common Law of Love, and Love is the Self-Givingness of Spirit. … All individuality merges into universality. All forms are rooted in one common creative Mind and the Spirit of God is the Spirit of Man.  ~ Dr. Ernest Holmes
Seeking the common good is a habit of the heart. A habit that may need development, evolution or transformation, depending on your upbringing. This heart habit is found in many philosophical traditions:

     In the Jewish tradition one learns to live openhearted in the face of immense and devastating heartbreak is a historical and spiritual imperative. There's a story about a disciple asking the rebbe, “Why does Torah tell us to ‘place these words upon your hearts’? Why does it not tell us to place these holy words in our hearts?” The rebbe answers, “It is because as we are, our hearts are closed, and we cannot place the holy words in our hearts. So we place them on top of our hearts. And there they stay until, one day, the heart breaks and the words fall in.”

     In the Christian tradition one learns a broken-open heart is virtually indistinguishable from the image of the cross. It is said that God’s heart was broken for the sake of humankind, broken open into a love that Jesus’ followers are called to match within their lives. Symbolically, the arms of the cross stretch out in four ways, pulling against each other from left to right and up to down, converging in a center, a heart, that is pulled open by the tension of these oppositions. Pulled open and ready to receive the teachings of Yeshua.

     In General Humanism, the philosophy advocates that all develop a “habit of the heart” which allows them to hold the tension of opposites without falling apart, comprehending all sides of an issue, to be comfortable with complexity and ambiguity, to honor paradox in thought, speech, and action … to open up to new insight with calm compassion and understanding; though not necessarily agreement, but with open heart.

In determining if something or someone is representing the common good, we look for an idea, action, belief or policy that represents the common good of society rather than the interest of an elite few. We found that common good internationally during 9/11. In fact, this country was created in a philosophy for the common good. The preamble of the constitution of our nation begins with “We the People:”
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
And the U.S. Motto is "E Pluribus Unum," "Out of many, one." The phrase refers to Cicero's paraphrase of Pythagoras in his De Officiis. It is a part of a discussion about basic family and social bonds being the origin of how societies and states function. In essence, when each person loves the other as much as himself, it makes one out of many (unus fiat ex pluribus). Though e pluribus unum became an American and democracy watchword, it is actually a human one ... one for the common good.

Let's talk about the heart itself...
The human heart is the first home of democracy. It is where we embrace our questions. Can we be equitable? Can we be generous? Can we listen with our whole beings, not just our minds, and offer our attention rather than our opinions? And do we have enough resolve in our hearts to act courageously, relentlessly, without giving up—ever—trusting our fellow citizens to join with us in our determined pursuit of a living democracy?             ~Terry Tempest Williams 
"Heart" comes from the Latin 'cor,' pointing to the core of the human self where all knowing converges, simultaneously the intellectual, emotional, sensory, intuitive, imaginative, experiential, relational, bodily, and others. The heart pumps much more than just blood, it also pumps hormones throughout the body that regulate many functions, including thought and perception in the brain. There is an electromagnetic field that envelopes the body which has been proven to influence the behavior of DNA in our cells. The heart also has an intelligence similar to the brain. It's complex intrinsic nervous system is an intricate network of several types of neurons, neurotransmitters, proteins and support cells. The heart is where we integrate what we know in our minds with what we know in our gut, the place where knowledge and feeling can connect.

Cor is also the Latin root of the word courage. When all that we know of self and world comes together in the center-place called the heart, we are more likely to find the courage to act humanely on what we know.
Heart-Mind well-being refers to creating a balance between educating the mind and educating the heart.     
                                   ~Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Understanding
Parker Palmer, founder of the Center for Courage & Renewal, has developed five habits to heal the heart of democracy:

1. An understanding that we are all in this together.

Everything we receive through the Law comes from elsewhere: the unexpected income, increased income, medical expertise vs. not, your mate and/or friends

2. An appreciation of the value of "otherness."

The idea of otherness is a made up notion stemming from a learned or accepted perception. There really isn't any otherness, since we all come from the same creative energy.
The measure of mental health is the disposition to find good everywhere.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
3. An ability to hold tension in life-giving ways.

Life can be imperfect. It is what we do with the tensions created by our imperfect beliefs that manifest into our experience, is what is important. We must decide; are we to be a victim or a victor?

4. A sense of personal voice and agency.

What are you saying, thinking, believing; not only about yourself but the your family, your country and the world. What we put into the race consciousness via our opinions, judgments, biases, prejudices affects the culture and our community and the planet.

5. A capacity to create community.
I have many proverbs and sayings that ring true, such as:
If you want to go fast, go alone; but if you want to go far, go together 
It takes a village to raise a child 
We get to make a living; we give to make a life. ~Winston Churchill 
A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world.                        ~Mohammed 
Believe, when you are most unhappy, that there is something for you to do in the world. So long as you can sweeten another's pain, life is not in vain.  ~Helen Keller 
Community and collaboration is not about making ourselves second class compared to the greater good, but about that being an inclusive part of taking care of self.
The charitable give out the door and God puts it back through the window.  ~Traditional Proverb
One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but ends up impoverished.    ~Proverbs 11:24
To the world, you may be one person, but to one person, you may be the world.    ~Unknown
The common good is necessary and each of us lives a richer life, appreciating, respecting, sharing with and taking action for the common good. A Chinese proverb tells us:
Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will never be shortened. Happiness never ceases by being shared.

During the holidays, during Hanukkah, the lead candle on the menorah is called the shamash (helper candle). It's the 'attendant' candle that is there to light all the others and to be of service if one candle blows out. I ask you to join me in being the shamash, the attendant, to each other. To stand firm in taking action for the common good, however that looks for you. Use your time, talent, treasure, wisdom and heart for what is right, decent and love-filled for the greater good, the common good. 

Sometimes it is good to be common, right to be common and a blessing to be common. Do so, and watch the world shine longer, steadier and brighter.

Just as Spirit Loves me, so too do I love myself and so too, am I kind to myself by nourishing my mind, body and spirit; laughing often, loving always, forgiving everything and remembering who I Am. Knowing I am One with all, so too I know this Love, Kindness and nourishment for all creation, expecting its magnificence to shine just as bright.

No comments:

Post a Comment