The “common good” consists of those facilities — material, cultural or institutional—that the members of a community provide to all members in order to fulfill a relational obligation they all have to care for certain interests that they have in common. The most cogent examples of the common good are water and air, which are essential for life. Water and air can be polluted or, as is the case in Belize, some communities have a problem accessing clean drinking water.
A society cannot function and be united if the common good is not a major part of the political and social reality. One practical manifestation of the common good is the public good. A public good is a product that one individual can consume without reducing its availability to others and from which no one is deprived. Examples of public goods include law enforcement, national defense, sewer systems, and community parks.
The modern democratic reality in Belize is based on divisive politics. It is us against them. Politicians, practice divide and rule — my party, my class (rich or poor, Northside or Southside) and yes, the criminal (who is destroying Belize) against us.
Even the criminals are products of our political and social system. They are the people who made bad decisions when dealing with unfavorable socioeconomic conditions. If you just punish them without dealing with the conditions that created them, you are not solving the social problem.
Confrontation focuses our emotional energies on the singular goal of winning over the other side. As we become consumed in this mindset, we reenact partisan patterns of conflict that may comfort our fears but undermine cooperation. Strong loyalty to “our side” makes it forbidden to break ranks, no matter what our leaders adopt. When we feel an assault on our sacred values—the core of our identity—our anger turns to outrage, hardening the lines of division.
The point is to be aware that it’s a system of social control to influence the populace to support a particular political party. This is what is happening in Europe, the United States and the Caribbean, including Belize, in politics.
To heal the nation, politics must emphasize the common good, or it is mere divisive politics.
The common good is achieved when we work together to improve the wellbeing of people in our society and the wider world. The rights of the individual to personal possessions and community resources must be balanced with the needs of the disadvantaged and dispossessed.
This is an alternative perspective that has helped nations to rise. Whether it be Egypt, Spain, England, the United States or China, the country rises when the populace has the narrative (conviction) that their country provides or facilitates them with their material and social needs — the common good— and they work fiercely for the common good. We, the people, must control the agenda, not the political parties. This can be done through the common good which unites the people.
Brian E. Plummer