Sojourner's Jim Wallis was a guest on MSNBC's Morning Joe program the other day and made the comment that in America "we've lost the notion of the common good - a sense of community."
This set me to wondering: What is it that binds a people together and infuses them with a sense of community? Is it not shared values, shared language, and shared aspirations? Is it not the case that we've lost the notion of the common good precisely because we no longer share the values and mores that this country "grew up" with? Today we are all autonomous individuals each pursuing our own fulfillment and each insisting upon our right to do so.
There was a time when most Americans shared a love of country, a respect for traditions, a common reverence for God, and a belief that if we worked hard, got married before having children, stayed married through thick and thin, that we'd generally be successful. There was a time when immigrants insisted that their children learn English and succeed in school because they saw assimilation as the pathway to success. None of that seems to be the case today.
Wallis is nostalgic for the lost sense of the common good, but the modern flight from the old verities almost guarantees that we'll never get it back. The irony is that Wallis is a progressive and it has been progressives who over the last generation have been busily at work gnawing away at the very foundations of the community that Wallis holds dear. You'd think that that would at least give him pause.RLC