'A human being is not born for the sake of self but for the sake of others. That is, they are born not to live for theirself alone but for others. Otherwise there could be no cohesive society, nor any good in it.' True Christian Religion 406
There are few greater challenges than seeing ourselves as a part of a greater whole. To be sure, in our daily work we do tasks that benefit those around us. Yet it’s one thing to serve those with whom we immediately work. It is another to see that our life and its by-products affect countless people - people we don’t know personally and can’t even begin to envision. It is still another thing to love this greater body of humanity, to esteem its welfare above our own, and to act in harmony with it from love. Love the common good? How do we do that?
‘by doing our daily work ‘sincerely, justly, and faithfully’ we are essentially doing our part in the common good.’
The Writings for the New Church help us here. They invite us to see that by doing our daily work ‘sincerely, justly, and faithfully’ we are essentially doing our part in the common good. And when we deal with the things in our immediate sphere of influence, sincerely, justly, and faithfully, we are just a stone’s throw from loving that common good. (cf. Doctrine of Life 72, 114; Charity 158)
But to love the common good requires reflection. We need to think of the use that our work is serving. What is its direct impact? What are the ripples of influence that impact other elements of society? How does what we do affect others for good?
Our work doesn’t need to be grand. Virtually every job has wider impact. Sweeping our front pavement. Bagging groceries. Taking care of a nephew at the park. Every task has a wider effect. The well-being of society can be traced back to every useful thing that individuals do. Our usefulness is as deep and wide as our focus - and as satisfying! Thinking through the task at hand to the common good makes even small jobs more rewarding.
Our focus tends to be narrow. This is why our job can seem unsatisfying. It’s also why our place in the Whole can seem inconsequential. By widening our focus as we attend to our task, we can begin to feel a greater sense of purpose and delight in the job at hand. And thinking of the wider neighbour we are serving can even enkindle a sense of mind-expanding love.
Apocalypse Explained 1226:
The essence of uses is the public good. With the angels the public good in the most general sense means the good of the entire heaven, in a less general sense the good of the society, and in a particular sense the good of the fellow citizen. But with people in the world the essence of uses in a most general sense is both the spiritual and the civil good of the whole human race, in a less general sense the good of the country, in a particular sense the good of a society, and in an individual sense the good of the fellow citizen. And since these goods constitute the essence of uses, love is their life, since all good is a matter of love and life is in love. In this love is everyone who takes delight in the use they are in because of its usefulness, whether they are a king, a magistrate, a priest, a minister, a general, a merchant, or a workman. Everyone who takes delight in the use of their function because of its usefulness loves their country and fellow citizens. But they who do not take delight in it because of its usefulness, but do it solely for the sake of self, or solely for the sake of honour and wealth, do not in their heart love their country and fellow citizens, but only theirself and the world. This is because no one can be held by the Lord in love to the neighbour unless they are in some love for the public good. And no one can be in that love unless they are in a love of use for the sake of use, or in a love of use from use, thus from the Lord.