Read more about appreciating the present wile setting your sites on a preferred future by checking out these three posts:
The future is a terrible thing to waste. And yes, the future is unknown.
What is known is that: 1.) we are here today and 2.) how we act and what we focus on today that will potentially impact the future.
So, each of us has some choices about – how we act and what we focus on.
We face many challenges of:
poverty – local, regional and global,
thinking trough our interconnectedness and interdependence (our social responsibility) to improve sustainability – at the micro and macro levels,,
fast paced technological change leaving some far behind,
tapping and developing the potential of all young people through educational opportunity around the world, and
many more challenges.
Let’s ask ourselves: What kind of future do we want for our communities, our region our world? How much do we value the common good?
My answers can be summed up by this Gandhi quote: “I do not believe in the doctrine of the greatest good for the greatest number. The only real, dignified doctrine is the greatest good for all.”
As the United Nations encourages improvement in situations around the world it describes ‘development’ as meeting “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” – from the World Commission on Environment and Development’s (the Brundtland Commission) report Our Common Future (1987).
This thinking is consistent with the Great Law of the Iroquois Nation which is often quoted as: “In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation.”
Behaving in ways that respect the future and the common good is not a new idea.
I believe that for me and other persons living today, that there are real accessible ‘practices’ and ‘points of focus’ that do address issues of the common good. They may not be easy to discover or act on, yet how we act and what we focus on matters.
The future of our children and grand children, let alone the futures of generations yet to bone – these futures should be our motivation. The challenges are many for each of us to “grow” these efforts. And the future is worth it!
Let’s use the present to get to the future. How can we build upon our current strengths and opportunities to move toward a desired future?
Action is a better than doing nothing.
Do we see the value of using the ‘lens’ of the common good as one of the major considerations we take into account as we make sense of the complexity of our thoughts, words and actions?
In answering that question it may lead you to want to develop your own basic meaning for the common good.
Abraham Maslow, a renowned psychologist, saw the necessities of people lives – such as the needs for: air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, safety, security, stability and others as basic. He proposed a theory that states that these specific kinds of requirements of life are primary to all humans. His theory goes on to say that humans also have real needs for: family, affection, relationships, achievement, status, responsibility, opportunities to develop knowledge, meaning and self-awareness, and many more needs as further requirements for a healthy life when the basics such as food and drink are met. Could it be that, for you, the common good may have something to do with all people having a right to meet their individual basic needs?
Other threats to the world and to all of us people on it might include the potential of: nuclear war, a conventional war, a pandemic of major scale, the acidification of the oceans, global warming or the potential fallout from a super volcano leading to the light and warmth from our sun being blocked from earth.
Could it be that, for you, the common good may also have something to do with finding ways to respond to, deal with and/or predict the kinds of potential treats mentioned in the last paragraph?
Some might say that working toward supporting the common good is purely an act of wasted energy. There may be some people that would call a person who is trying to impact the common good a ‘dreamer’ because they (the folks working for the common good) are unrealistic.
I am proud to be a dreamer.
Dreams provide a focus for our actions. Dreams offer direction for our energy. Dreams can uncover possibility.
Gandhi asks, “What does it matter if people look upon us as dreamers?”
I say that it is time to dream: time to dream about a brighter future for all of mankind as individuals. It is time to dream about a better world. It is time to dream about bettering ourselves as we relate to others, and bettering our communities (locally and globally) for all. Yes, it is time to dream and to follow your dreams with action!
I believe that the dream of serving the common good is a potentially powerful and useful focus for a each of us as we contribute to the fabric of life that is being woven.
How a leader show up matters. What a leader believe matters. The leader’s ‘frame’ makes a difference. Diana Whitney, Amanda Trosten-Bloom and Kae Rader in their book: Apprecitive Leadership help leaders to develop their skills and attitudes related to helping to bring about positive systemic change. The following four attributes are those common to leaders who approach systemic change from an Appreciative Inquiry point of view.
Leaders who choose appreciative inquiry as their vehicle for positive change had the following four things in common.
1. They’re willing to engage with other members of their organization or community to create a better way of doing business or living.
2. They are willing to learn and change.
3. These leaders truly believe in the power of the positive.
4. These leaders cared about people, often describing the work of their organization or business in terms of helping people learn, grow, and develop. Pages xvii to xix
Appreciative Leadership: Focus on What Works to Drive Winning Performance and Build a Thriving Organization by Diana Whitney, Amanda Trosten-Bloom and Kae Rader, 2010