The following is published on Citizen4life, and is something to think about!
The concept of the greater good is used to justify actions where loss affects a few/ or takes place to allow for a perceived greater benefit.
There have been wars waged based on ‘the greater good’. During war it is believed that a few hundred men will sacrifice /lose their lives for their country to achieve their goal of strength or freedom.
At work there are times when someone ‘takes one for the team’ because there are proposed future benefits for all. Sometimes it can be a salary to avoid layoffs, and at other times a salesman may be asked to allow another to take over a deal based on bigger benefits for the company in a bigger deal. Whatever the reason, it is considered a sacrifice for the benefit of others.
As I think about this ‘rationale’ it seems that it is a double-edged sword which can be for both good or bad depending on the person using the phrase for justification of action or decision. For good or bad that decision ultimately can be a ‘bitter pill to swallow’. I recall a meeting with a sales team when one of the salespeople suggested they team up against a manager to force a change some thought was necessary. The goal was to make the manager look bad so their suggestion would look like a solution. The weaker members were bullied into submission and one person walked away. The argument was everyone needed to stand together for the team and if the majority thought it was a good idea it was a small sacrifice for the greater good to compromise on one’s beliefs/ values.
The expectation of society to be in ‘martyr mode’ for religious, political and social or cultural reasons has been growing, with folks expected to look at ‘the greater good’, taking one for the team, but ultimately ‘throwing someone below the bus’, as a necessary sacrifice.
There have been wars and sacrifices which have resulted freedom, the end of slavery, freedom of human rights to choose what happens with one’s body, how to pray and what religion to observe, who to vote for and ultimately who to be. When one person decides his way is the right way, and is able to build a cult of support the power of numbers can become a societal bully. The right of man is a human right, but according to George Orwell, “all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others”.
‘Animal Farm’ was published on August 17th, 1945 and it’s interesting that today it holds true. When it comes to the greater good, on very few occasions has this been a worthy justification. The abuse of others, and their rights can never and should not be considered as something to promote ‘a greater good’.