Who Defines the “Good” in “Common Good”?

If a “good” is held to be common, then surely that decision must come from community. Too often the community’s role is unexamined in this regard, but the intentionality of one Native culture in defining and protecting the common good might serve as an example to us all.

In my Alutiiq language, the word for “good” is asirtuq. In English, it literally means “it is good.”

As an Alutiiq, my worldview and cultural values give me a specific lens through which to understand “common good.” It is a lens rooted in important questions about relationships between people, people and the environment, and people and institutions. It is also rooted in questions about the relative benefit of organized society to individual people. Civil society may benefit from a broad and inclusive examination of our worldviews and values as a path to better defining and defending the essential role of the nonprofit sector, and how it contributes to the common good. By examining my Alutiiq worldview and values, I gain insight about how the nonprofit sector plays a role in serving the common good.

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