The centrality of power in the post-modern world has drastically shifted. Social and political influence no longer emanates from the common good but from those who can guarantee the intransience of power in vital positions of government. Not even the immense number of concerned citizens can sway a change in public policy unless it directly translates to votes (within an electoral exercise) in a highly organized manner over and above mere statistics. Moreover, the process of technological advancement and globalization is like a flood streaming around the world and our country pulling each and every individual into a whirlpool of competition, disregarding the gap in economic capability, welfare and resilience — all at the expense of the poor, which are most often left behind in the cold.
As a result of this imbalance of power in our society the interest only of a few is given importance, leaving us with an avalanche of “downstream” problems and concerns, hence directing most of our social initiatives as mere reactionary measures to help address these societal ills and difficulties. If we are to make decisive changes on how social action is done in the Archdiocese of Manila, we should collaboratively initiate parish-based initiatives that would likewise address “upstream” governmental action (e.g., public policy development and implementation) so that even before it becomes a “downstream” social predicament we have already done preventive measures to lessen its debilitating impact. In so doing, our social apostolate can be channeled to more developmental and capacity building projects.
In the absence of light darkness will prevail! Evil will definitely triumph when good men do nothing. Our Catechism of the Catholic Church explicitly says that, “As with any ethical obligation, the participation of all in realizing the common good calls for a continually renewed conversion of the social partners. Fraud and other subterfuges, by which some people evade the constraints of the law and the prescriptions of societal obligation, must be firmly condemned because they are incompatible with the requirements of justice” (CCC No. 1916).
The Common Good calls for prudence in each and every one of us, and even more from those who exercise the office of authority. It consists of three essentials elements: (1) The Common Good presupposes respect for the person as such. Government is bound to respect the fundamental and inalienable rights of its citizens; (2) The Common Good require the social well-being and development of the group itself. The accessibility to all basic human needs (e.g. food, shelter, clothing, housing, etc.) must transcend personal interests and practices of graft and corruption; and (3) The Common Good requires peace that is, the stability and security of a just order. Active non-violence must always characterize the way the Common Good is promoted and/or defended. Civility and logic must always be the arena to which issues are discussed and properly addressed.
“Each human community possesses a common good which permits it to be recognized as such; it is in the political community that its most complete realization is found.
It is the role of the state to defend and promote the common good of civil society, its citizens and intermediate bodies” (CCC 1910).
The Social Action of promoting the common good is therefore a call of faith. Being a Christian is not just a “Sunday Affair” or a matter of “Praises, Prayers and Hymns”.
Faith without work is dead. The faith that leads us to a loving encounter with God in our spiritual life should also serve as the inspiration that would lead us to action and service in our day-to-day social, economic and political life. The cross isn’t just a vertical relationship (between God and Man) but a horizontal affiliation (Man to Man) as well that completes our acts of faith.
This “doing” dimension of our Faith in the promotion and defense of the common good is a holistic approach to salvation considering man in his entireness both spiritual and physical (temporal). Genuine Faith is Believing, Trusting and Doing. This kind of Faith that lives and grows through prayer, worship and action is the cornerstone of a true encounter with God that is opposite the Spiritually Mechanistic view of faith. We shouldn’t just be KBL Christians (Kasal, Binyag and Libing Christians) who go to Church to be hatched, matched and dispatched but socially active lay leaders who play the game of life within the boundaries and rules of the common good.
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