"Common good" is a term that isn't used much in societies that focus on individualism. Merriam-Webster defines "common good" as "the public good, the advantage of everyone."
The idea is to put our well-being as a community above our individual interests, and to contribute as individuals to benefiting our community rather than ourselves.
One irreplaceable common good in our world is a healthy Earth that provides a healthy life for all of us. To protect this common good, each and every individual needs to contribute.
But unfortunately, as the COVID-19 pandemic has vividly demonstrated, many people put their individual interests over "the advantage of everyone."
Before the COVID vaccine, there were those who covered their faces and those who didn't. Now that the vaccine is readily available, our society is once again divided, namely between those who advocate the vaccine and those who oppose it.
Where has our solidarity been in this pandemic? "Solidarity," according to Merriam-Webster, means the "unity" of a group that arises from a "community of interests, objectives, and standards." Where has this unity been that we so urgently needed and still need to reduce the spread of the virus, to protect each other, to preserve ICU beds for non-COVID patients, and to spare nurses and doctors from having to reach their limits once more?
Being part of a community means carrying about each other and being willing to compromise for "the advantage of everyone."
Wearing a mask doesn't hurt, and the risk of getting COVID is greater than suffering from severe side effects caused by the vaccine. As a community, we absolutely need to stick together -- not only in this pandemic but also if we want to save this Earth for our children, grandchildren, and future generations.n
Dr. Daniela Ribitsch originally comes from Graz, Austria. She has lived in the United States since 2009 and teaches German at Lycoming College in Williamsport. She can be reached at email@example.com.