I hope all have had a wonderful summer up to this point. Keep in mind that school will soon be back in session and we should all use caution in the school zones. As we come to the end of our vacations and prepare to get back to the daily task of sustaining our lifestyle let us remember the common good. This is the good that is linked to living in society. It is the good of “all of us,” individuals, families and intermediate groups forming society. It is a requirement of justice and society to take a stand for the common good and strive toward it. I read an article a few months ago by Jim Wallis entitled: “Whatever Happened to the “Common Good”? In it he states that the notion of the common good is that government should promote “the general welfare” of all. It is our fundamental political inclination: don’t go right, don’t go left; go deeper. But we’ve lost touch with that moral compass and have replaced it with ideology and money. A commitment to the common good could bring us together and solve the deepest problems this country and the world now face: How do we work together? How do we treat each other, especially the poorest and most vulnerable? How do we take care of not just ourselves but also one another? The common good is also the best way to find common ground with other people—even with those who don’t agree with us or share our politics. Both liberals and conservatives could affirm the moral standard of the common good. And that commitment is especially attractive to young people. The common good should impact all the decisions we make in our personal, family, vocational, financial, communal, and yes, public lives. It is those individual and communal choices— from how we raise our own children, to how we engage with our local communities, to what we are willing to bring to our elected officials—that will ultimately create the cultural shifts and social movements that really do change politics in the long run. The nation will soon be deciding on immigration reform, new efforts to prevent gun violence, and how to find a path to fiscal sustainability that reflects our nation’s soul. Only by inspiring a spiritual and practical commitment to the common good can we help make our common life better. Each of us, according to our vocation and degree of influence we yield in the city and the nation, is called to practice this–let’s call it “political charity.” When we are animated by charity, commitment to the common good has greater worth than a merely secular and political stand would have. Like all commitment to justice, it has a place within the testimony of divine charity that paves the way for a great community through temporal action. We cannot build the wonderful city or great nation that we desire without respect for all. In life it doesn’t matter how quickly you run the race; just that you finish. Everyone has bad days; days which like any other days start out all right but somewhere along the way some unforeseen event causes us to stall. What started out fine ends up a disaster. Run as hard as you can and you still can’t seem to get out of last place. Perhaps when days like this raise their ugly heads there is only one practical course to take, dropping out of the race and saving the effort for another time. There were many races that were run during the early days of Olympic competitions. We are familiar with the marathon and high hurdles as well as the myriad of short course races that are run. But there was one race which was held periodically outside of the Olympic competition that was as highly regarded as the other competitive races.
This race was called the torch relay. The race w hi ch spawned the mode rn day O ly mpic t orch r a ce and ceremo ny, often took place in the streets and alleys of Athens. Ten or twelve men would assemble before the city fathers, each carrying a torch, a simple bound bundle of twigs inset in a hollow container. The twigs were coated with tar and then, one by one, each torch was lit from the same flame. On their marks, the runners were sent out as a group and guided along a course that had been laid out among the city streets on which obstacles and barriers had been placed. The object of the race was to cross the finish line with your torch still lit. You could not stop and put the torch down or prop it anywhere. You had to hold it high and run with as much integrity as possible. In this race the victory seldom went to the fastest or the strongest. This was a race that depended upon timing and rhythm. To keep that torch lit required the ability to hold it properly, shielded from objects along the route and held away from the wind. If you ran too fast, you might put out the flame. If you ran to slow, the tar might burn up completely before you reached the finish line. If a runner’s torch flamed out, there was no r elightin g it. He was forced to drop out. The winner of the race was the first man to cross the finish line with his torch still lit. Winning was, t herefore, dep en dent upon endurance, not speed. As we hold high the goals of our nation and our city let us all run our race so as to finish so and benefit the common good of all. As our nation considers many reforms in the coming year I pray that they respect the common good. I’ve discovered that recapping goals hold us accountable for making progress towards a vision. We have accomplished most of what we set out to do as a city. This fiscal year our goals must become more ambitious. Goals that I believe are important in working towards the common good for us as a community. In the weeks and months ahead, we’ll share our progress going forward. Where we’re successful, we’ll share that. Where we’re less so, where we run into roadblocks, we’ll share that too. As always, thank you for your continued help and support! On a final note, as our city begin to address the budget for the upcoming fiscal year it is our intent to craft a common sense, common good financial plan. We ask for your understanding and support as we seek to continue our progressive movement towards a better West Park for us all.
God bless America and God bless the City of West Park.