Common Good thinking: challenging negativity with hope
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The European elections made clear the widespread disaffection with established party politics. Polarising language from both left and right encourages hopelessness, and the remoteness of political dialogue has allowed fringe groups to exploit the vacuum. 'Economic recovery' is felt only by a few, but has a hollow ring for ordinary people who experience the hard fact of fast widening inequality. Meanwhile civil society has taken many hits from liberalism and individualism, and the welfare state needs urgent reform to counter dependency. We cannot be complacent about this dysfunctional situation - the symptoms are clear: it is the most vulnerable who are bearing the pain and the total picture threatens our democracy.
But rather than give in to cynicism and negativity, we think the ancient tradition of the Common Good can provide a practical, new way through - if we all do our bit. It will be challenging for all those with vested interests and there will be resistance from both left and right. But this is what is required to mend our fragmented society. What people want is a language of hope and ways to engage.
We are just one among several groups promoting Common Good thinking. Our view is that an alliance for the Common Good can be built between Christians of different traditions, fellow faith communities and secular allies. By acting together across our traditions we will strengthen civil society, build reconciliation across estranged interests, re-imagine political life and commitment to the flourishing of all people.
So one strand of our work involves bringing together twenty MPs and Peers for a facilitated cross-party discussion on the Common Good. Christians in Parliament are generously helping us with this, due to take place on 9 June. Please think of us and we will report back next month.
We are also producing a book - a collection of essays on the Common Good from leading thinkers across the Christian denominations, secular and other faith traditions. CCLA have kindly sponsored two study days and we are excited that the book has now been commissioned by SCM Press, and will be published early next year.
To equip and empower people to see, hear and practice the language of the Common Good, we are also developing a Common Good Conversation model. We are taking our time to get this right, working in partnership with Housing Justice and will update you later on in the summer.
The findings from our research into collaborative working for social justice will be written up and published later this year. In the meantime, our research framework and some of our case studies are on our website. Do also explore our Resources section (and let us know what we can add) and read about the Sheppard Worlock partnership that inspires us in our Background pages.
We spend a lot of time in conversation with people across the Christian denominations, with secular allies and with friends of other faith traditions. We're delighted to be collaborating with other initiatives. If there's something you would like to discuss, don't hesitate to get in touch.
For your interest this month:
The newest addition to our collection of Opinion Pieces, we are honoured to include a speech by Michael Wear, Director of the 2012 Obama faith outreach campaign. He says the US can learn from the UK and that people of faith must act together, not only to ‘do compassion’ but also to engage with politics and ‘seek the welfare of the city’…
Heythrop College is holding a special study day on 12 June on Pope Francis' recent exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium.
The Joint Public Issues Team have produced a helpful resource on foodbanks.
The wonderful Ten Ten Theatre, at the request of Cardinal Nichols, has produced a new one-woman play about human trafficking in the UK, 'This is my body' two performances only: June 20-21.
Jenny Sinclair gave her first public talk on behalf of Together for the Common Good, on reconciliation - at St Eugene’s Catholic Cathedral in Derry, for a novena in honour of St Therese of Lisieux.
Power to People - the New Politics of the Common Good, a 2 day working conference to build a practical consensus for decentralisation of power in the UK. King's College London, July 11-12. Major gathering for politicians and scholars, business leaders and community activists. See you there! Booking and full details here.
The Annual Justice and Peace Conference ‘Called to Life in All its Fullness’. Swanwick, 18-20 July. Designed to empower lay people and social action practitioners. Practical workshops and a programme for children and young people. Places still available.
Housing Justice Roadshow is in Birmingham on 12 June, details here.
The Contextual Theology Centre continues to do thoughtful work on economic justice, foodbanks and urban mission – click here to get involved in their summer programme.
If you are interested in alternatives to payday lending, you will find the Community Investment Coalition newsletter useful – click here
If you don't use Twitter but are curious, click here to see our Storify of some of our Twitter output.
We hope you find this helpful and that your own work is going well. We are always pleased to hear from you so don't hesitate to get in touch - after all, we're working Together for the Common Good.
Every best wish,
Together for the Common Good