Life Day By Day,  Socio-Political

For the common good

I have met and know many people that make an effort to live their lives for the common good. That is, sharing the benefits of living in a civil society. But I also know of people who put self-interest before the common good. Self-interest is a subtle characteristic. It is not always recognised by those who put self-interest ahead of the common good. They have little insight or care about this trait in their character. So, there is none or little guilt associated with their way of life.

COVID-19 Stay-at-Home Health Orders

The stay-at-home health orders, due to COVID-19, are for everyone to follow. The orders are in place for the common good. But as we know there are some who have not followed the health orders. Have they acted out of self-interest?

They have organised undercover parties or protests. The result is that COVID-19 has spread silently around the community. Why do they behave this way? Is it because they believe the health orders are unjust. But by not following the health orders they are engaging in civil disobedience. It might be justifiable, in their mind, but in the middle of a pandemic it is dangerous. It also poses a threat to the rule of law.

Because of their actions they put others at risk. They do not act for the common good. As a consequence, innocent people who were doing the right thing have caught the virus and died.

Equality in health care

Australian Prime Minister Robert Hawke (Bob to his friends) introduced Medicare in 1984. It is a good example of Australians paying taxes for the common good.

A universal health insurance scheme was controversial back in the 1980s. But it was a fairer system that covered basic health care costs for everyone. But decades have past, and Medicare is not without its faults. It could do with an overhaul.

Still, if you get COVID-19 in Australia you will be treated fairly and receive good health care. That is, as long as the health system in not overburdened. If this happens equality for health care is at risk. Equality in health care requires a government to use taxpayers money for the common good. That is, to take responsibility for sound financial and infrastructure resource management.

The viablility of the Queensland hospital system is a current topic. In Queensland, where I live, community transmission of the COVID-19 virus has been low. Subsequently, the state has not had the additional pressures of high hospital admissions due to the virus.

Despite this, the Queensland hospital system is not managing. Current demands for general health care are high. The health care system is in place for the common good but there is a problem in Queensland.

If there is a major COVID-19 outbreak what will happen? Should a doctor have to prioritise the health care of a 40-year-old or an 80-year-old? Or delay important elective surgery because of COVID-19 patients? All because some did not act for the common good. They acted out of self-interest and spread the disease.

Taxes have been paid for the common good. Doctors should not face the ethical dilemma of saving one life over another.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

In Paris, on 10 December 1948, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is a landmark document that sets out to protect fundamental human rights. It is in place for the common good.

Article 1 states, ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.’

Article 13.1 states, ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.’ In 13.2 it states, ‘Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.’

Here is a link to the declaration. Please note: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights language is not gender inclusive. Back in 1948 it was written from a male perspective.

The document has been signed and ratified by over 150 countries. Even so, many Australians due to COVID-19, have not been able to return to their home country. The freedom of movement of individuals has been restricted due to the pandemic.

Finally

The declaration of human rights, although not legally binding, gives humanity a map out of the maze of self-interest. Governments legislate for the common good. Declarations have been agreed to and signed for the common good.

This has happened because in a civil society it is in the interests of all that the common good overshadows self-interest.

Yet, everyone behaving in the interests of the common good cannot be guaranteed. But awareness of our behaviour is the first step. The second step is thinking of others alongside self. These two steps take us in the right direction. Thus we can all benefit from living in a socity that considers everyone at once – all for the common good.

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