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Faith Comment published in the Petersfield Post

18 February 2015: Sylvia Roberts, St Peter's

Seek the common good

There is a payer used in the Church of England in which we ask God to help us to "seek the common good". This phrase has been much in my mind recently as I have seen people in our town involved in many different ways to "seek the common good". In fact there are so many people involved in voluntary work of one kind or another locally that it seems impossible for me to have a conversation with anyone for long without discovering some good thing they are doing for others in their own time - unsung and unpaid.

As we approach an election, the state of the economy is a great concern so it was heartening to read recently that both Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin Welby have united to insert the concept of 'good' into economic calculation, insisting that in a world of 'right' the idea of goodness can be quite subversive.

The utopian dream from 1945 of a welfare state seems to have run into the sand by 1979, because inefficiency, bureaucracy and self interest, to be superseded by new hope in entrepreneurialism and self reliance.

But that dream too foundered as vice crept into the heart of the economic system with people increasingly behaving in greedy and dishonest ways. The final crash of 2008 seems to mark the end of both national economic dreams.

From South Africa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, reminds us of the Bantu word 'Ubuntu', meaning 'A person is a person through other persons - when the sum of our collective parts move together humanity can thrive.'

Could the 'common good' be a litmus test for the policies of the political parties to guide us as we plan how to vote in May?

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