Every week I use an auto Google Search on ‘Common Good’. Most of the results are irrelevant to what I want to share. This week an article came up. I try to stay nonpartisan in CommonGood. There are other venues for political debates. But this article spoke to me. I have spent some time lately reading and researching about the Koch Brothers. I’ve also researched what binds us together as conservatives and progressives. What values do we share and how our brains and experiences differ. I try to believe, like Anne Frank, that people are basically good at heart. I want that to be true.
There is a lot of good being done here on the Outer Banks. There is so much support and passion in many, diverse areas such as sea turtles, hungry children, people with cancer, and aging seniors. Passion requires funding. Funding requires passion. An example is the group Food for Thought. During the school year dozens of volunteers put together weekend food for children in need. The food is provided by the Albemarle Food Bank which is funded through Feeding America, a national nonprofit. In 2016, Funding America helped provide 4 billion meals to 46 million Americans. They partner with partners with individuals, foundations, businesses and government agencies. Federal nutrition programs are the cornerstone for ensuring that struggling Americans can get the food they need when they fall on hard times. Congress must protect SNAP and other critical programs like TEFAP, CSFP,and child nutrition programs to ensure they remain a resource for millions of Americans in need of food assistance.
Read this article. I hope it speaks to you whether you are Democrat, Republican or Independent. As the article says “We are all in this together and time is short.”
Amy Goodman recently interviewed professor of history and public policy Nancy MacLean, author of Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America. Every progressive, liberal and moderate Republican should listen to this interview. Maclean excavates and reveals— no conspiracy theories—the holy grail undergirding the radical right’s organizing principles. She examines the work of economist James Buchanan which has profoundly influenced the strategies and activities of the influential Koch brothers, among others. Listen to Buchanan’s words:
“There’s certainly no measurable concept … that could be called the public interest…”
I am a unifier by nature, creating bridges to alleviate isolation, polarization and alienation, individually and collectively. But polarized we are in these our current Disunited States of America. And we had better face and understand this polarization and grasp it by the horns if we are to have any chance of turning it around.
Buchanan is proffering a worldview, a paradigm that structures political, social and economic action, much of it behind the scenes. It takes the Koch brothers and others to weaponize his worldview. They have, and they are. Listen to more from Buchanan,
“The public interest, as a politician thinks, it does not mean it exists. It’s what he thinks is good for the country. How do you weigh different interests of different groups and what they can get out of it?”
There is no common good. No collective ethic in which all we co-exist one with the other; where we each contribute and receive what we and others need to live a good life. Where we negotiate at the intersection of self-interest and collective interest. Forget the systems model (and ancient Buddhist teaching) that what most deeply benefits you benefits me and visa versa. At the root it is simply a matter of what you want versus what I want.
Buchanan actually finds it deceptive to argue otherwise,
“…If he would come out and say that, that’s one thing. But behind this hypocrisy of calling something “the public interest” as if it exists, is—that’s—that’s what I was trying to tear down.”
Trump’s advisor Steve Bannon and others are unabashedly tearing down institutional structures based on a collaboration constitutionally enshrined compact between constituents and their representatives. But it goes deeper. There is a fundamental clash of paradigms.
One model acknowledges that, however elusive, there IS a collective good while the other, no matter the window dressing, is rooted in a distorted pseudo-Darwinian model where it’s each man or interest group for itself. Where you don’t even have to PRETEND that what you’re doing is good. “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”
The wise would disagree. Harvard professor Greg Friccionne wrote an astonishing book to this very point. In his tour de force, Compassion and Healing in Medicine and Society, Friccione meticulously cites extensive data—from disciplines ranging from biology and psychiatry, human development and neuroscience, to philosophy and spirituality, and physics, and cosmology— that the fittest are, drum roll, those individuals and groups that find inclusive, connection-enhancing solutions to existential (separation) challenges.
When the underlying model that animates our political, economic, environmental, sociocultural and religious activity is ‘Dog eat dog and the biggest dog prevails’— AND when part and parcel of the model is that this is the one true model,—we are in deep shit. So we must continue to articulate, demonstrate and fight for an alternate view of our precious humanity. It too is simple: We are all in this together and time is short.
Joseph Bobrow, Contributor
Founder, Deep Streams Institute and Coming Home Project
Gut To The Chase — “There Is No Public Interest.”
“Life is short and we never have enough time for the hearts of those who travel the way with us. O, be swift to love! Make haste to be kind.”