The Common Good of Community

These days, providing for the common good by equalizing the economic level playing field through the “creation or redistribution of wealth”—or giving one’s fair share—is an interesting conversation.  

It intrigues me that many of those who take up such a mantra, themselves live apart from those with whom they wish to build solidarity. However, as “First Things” editor R. R. Reno points out: “Solidarity is not the same as equality. It’s about being with others, being part of something, rather than being the same or having the same amounts of stuff.”[1] So, if disparity of wealth is not the issue dividing us, what is?

Reno goes on to state that it is actual space that divides us, not just financial distance. We need each other.  Just as the scientific study of isolation on infants indicated that touch and the spoken word are necessary for proper emotional and physical nurturing, people need community. Reno also claims it’s a grievous error to think that this distance can be broached by the rich paying a greater share of taxes – as this chasm is a social gap, not merely economic. 

What the poor and disadvantaged need is not bread alone . . . they need to be in community with us – in solidarity with those seeking to help them.

community

Again, solidarity is not merely monetary equality, but togetherness. Detrick Bonhoeffer warned that those who dream of community are likely the destroyer of community. How? They focus only what they want it to be, not on the community itself as it is. Such are those who desire to build a better community from afar – thinking that their charitable contributions, requiring increased taxes, or that their advocacy and activism will bring solidarity . . . without having to bridge the space between themselves and those they “target” with their doing good.   

What personal and professional time, talent, and treasures are creating space rather than lessening it in your sphere of community? We will each need to go beyond our “soup-kitchener” and donor activity, as well as our share of the tax burden, and deal with decreasing the space between ourselves and those we seek to help. If we want to see solidarity of community, we must do it as Jesus did . . . with our feet, our hands, and our actions.

1 Reno, R. R. “The Public Square: Solidarity.” First Things (Institute on Religion and Public LIfe), no. 234 (June/July 2013): 3-4.

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