Reflections on The Common Good – ‘Rainbow’ InterFaith evening

rainbow interfaith event

It’s a privilege to be with you tonight, and to think with you about THE COMMON GOOD. I’ve been blessed with many wise and wonderful teachers through my life, and they have taught me again and again, that when I think about God and Good, I always think far far too small…

I grew up in South Africa, during the years of apartheid. So when I was a young boy, my idea of Good was all about ‘what is good for white people.’ But then when I was 14, a whole lot of black children arrived at my all-white school. As I made friends with them, and as I heard Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu talking about apartheid, I realised that my understanding of Good was far far too small. When I started seeing the world through the eyes of Black and Indian South Africans, I learned that a true vision of the Common Good needs to include justice and equality.

As a South African, my idea of Good used to be ‘what is good for South Africa.’ But then I came to live in England. As I stared out of the airplane window for 12 hours and saw how big God’s world is, I realised that my understanding of Good was far far too small. When I started seeing the world through the eyes of English people and French people and Pakistani and Indian and Vietnamese and Brazilian people, I learned that a true vision of the Common Good needs to include people from all over the world, not just South Africans.

As a man, my idea of Good used to be ‘what is good for men.’ Mostly all about cricket and rugby! Then I met this amazing girl, and I realised that my vision of Good was far far too small. When I started seeing the world through a woman’s eyes, I learned that a true vision of the Common Good needs to include compassion, wisdom, common sense and beauty.

As a Christian, my idea of Good used to be, ‘what is good for Christians.’ But then I met Muslim and Hindu brothers and sisters, and I realised that my understanding of Good was far far too small. When I started seeing the world through the eyes of other faiths, I learned that a true vision of the Common Good needs to include a vision of God that is always more beautiful, and always more holy than I can comprehend on my own.

As a 21st century person, my idea of Good used to be, ‘what is good for humanity today.’ But then I started reading about global warming and the many ways that we use and abuse God’s good earth, and I realised that my understanding of Good was far far too small. When I started seeing the world through the eyes of our children and grandchildren, I learned that a true vision of the Common Good needs to include active care for God’s world and its other creatures.

I’ve been blessed to learn all of these things through encounters with wise teachers. Perhaps the wisest lesson of all, is that the Common Good doesn’t just happen. It takes time and patience, and people who truly WANT to be together for good, for the Common Good of all God’s children. So the challenge for us this evening- how much do we want the Common Good? Do we want it enough, to be open to each other, and to truly see the world through each other’s eyes?

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