Finding Common Ground for the Common Good

Monday, April 01, 2013

Jim Wallis, author of On God's Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn't Learned about Serving the Common Good in the WNYC studios.

Recent debates over gun control, the budget and gay rights have shown us that our nation cannot seem to agree on anything these days. Jim Wallis, progressive Christian activist, president and CEO of Sojourners, and author of  On God's Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn't Learned about Serving the Common Good, says it's time to focus on the old concept, "the common good" as the only way out of our politically polarized gridlock.



Reverend Jim Wallis

Comments [28]


brenda Thweatt from Bronx -- Thanks for a very interesting analysis. Really makes me think and it makes sense

Apr. 02 2013 10:17 PM

(Haven't heard the segment yet -- but) kudos to the photographer -- nice guest photo, appreciate the effort.

Apr. 01 2013 11:36 PM
brenda Thweatt from Bronx

Nothing big to say, except, I realized today that the conservatives conflate the "common good" with socialism. This misrepresentation has put a psychological vice on the America's historical ability to thrive. From our colonies, to our minutemen,to our communal efforts in shaping home-ownership, schooling, safety, etc., we've ALWAYS worked together for the common good. The right has worked SO HARD to convince Americans that any form of communal effort is Communistic therefore un-American, that we are paralyzed to support policies for the Common Good. The true "American" is now represented by a rugged individualist who always has his OWN bootstraps to pull himself up with, and rises to the top om his own with no help from ANYBODY!By this paradigm, even the family is a socialist construct,let alone the community and the country! That's it. Husband is home. Must cook for him. How socialist of me!

Apr. 01 2013 07:23 PM

i think this is the wrong link/the wrong segment. the link here is a duplicate of the drone segment.

Apr. 01 2013 03:18 PM
Ed from Larchmont

The people of Sodom and Gemorrah thought that the message was ... pretty clear.

Apr. 01 2013 12:12 PM
Jf from Ny

You forgot to ask if his morality was hurt bu murdering 170+ children in pakistan and afghanistan

Apr. 01 2013 12:04 PM
antonio from baySide

...race is social construct...

Apr. 01 2013 12:03 PM
Mike from Jersey City from New Jersey

Ed from Larchmont. I would encourage you to reconsider the claim that folks have no assumptions in common. I believe a more accurate claim would be to say that have made a decision to refuse to examine the other side's interests.

Dinesh D'Souza used to use an interesting phrase: "not absurd." In other words, Rev. Wallis' views on, say, the new Pope are not absurd ....

This is not a bad place to start, I have found, because it is very hard to claim that folks entire world view is absurd.

BRIAN, sounds like an interesting topic for a call-in segment. People should call in, and tell everyone what they don't find absurd about a group they disagree with.

Apr. 01 2013 12:02 PM

Re: small drones for personal use?

I just read an article about small drones equipped with small amounts of explosives.

They are called Assassin Drones and are meant to track down the target and blow up close to the target's head and kill him or her.

This is not a joke.

And I've been "joking" about the right to own drones coming from the NRA types for a long time now. With the right justices it will happen...unless they fear for their own lives....

Apr. 01 2013 12:00 PM
Jacqui from EV

This has to be April Fools.

its working I am now officially squirming.
Weaponized Drones??????

Church and State??????


Apr. 01 2013 11:54 AM


This care for the powerful and wealthy has also affected our justice system. Somehow, those with immense amounts of money, aside from a few scape goats, are given a different and lighter touch from the law of our land. Too Big To Fail and Too Rich to Jail seems to be the new rule of law.

Something is missing, to me, in the moral fiber and outlook of our president. I don't know what to do about it. But it is infecting the entire Democratic Party, which more and more seems to find easing the way for the powerful and wealthy to be more important than caring for the greatest numbers of us and the poorest among us.

Or, maybe the hugely disproportionate redistribution of wealth to the tiniest Zero Dot One Percent is skewing how our politicians look at their world. They need huge amounts of money to obtain office and to stay there; so, they are forced to pay obeisance to those who have the money. And fool those who have the votes to let them take care of those with the money and power.

Apr. 01 2013 11:52 AM

I cannot know what is in President Obama's heart, nor can I know what his actual beliefs are.

I can only see his actions and the effects of his actions.

In this comment I will focus on his domestic programs, as his foreign policy is almost too deadly to write about at times.

From what I can see and know I fear we have a president who is far more committed to the well being and care of the wealthy, of big corporations and big banks, of those in power than the well being of the vast numbers who are not wealthy.

Obama is a Corporatist more than he seems to be a Christian.

I see a man who is doing all he can to set up situations where he can make cuts to SocSec and Medicare, even Medicaid (why, he's letting his ACA put Medicaid patients at the tender mercies of private for-profit insurance companies in, initially, Arkansas!!).

When he had to the chance, more than once, to just allow the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to expire, he took many actions to keep them in place. He protected the tax cuts for those making huge amounts compared to the vast numbers of Americans, those earning between $250,000 and $450,000. In reality, in his first go round of leaving the Bush tax cuts in place, making them the Obama/Bush tax cuts, he actually increased the taxes the poorest among us pay.

He continues to offer up the well being of those in retireement and on other SocSec programs (altho', as far as I undersand it, the Chained CPI will also result in cuts to veterans' benefits and to federal workers' pay increases) to the Republicans, just so he can do what he seems to feel is something Ronald Reagan didn't get done. More cuts to SocSec.

Obama may know the text about caring for the poor, but he does not seem to act on the meaning of the text.

I know Obama does not listen to the likes of me (he referred to Single Payer supporters as "those little single payer supporters" -- not a high level of respect, eh?) and others in my economic quintile. He does not listen to the majority of people who do not want cuts to SocSec due to his desire to impose lower payments due to the Chained CPI (now renamed the "Superlative CPI" since too many people began to understand what "Chained CPI" meant, I guess). He does not listen to those who wanted higher taxes on the highest wealth, in a progressive manner.


Apr. 01 2013 11:50 AM

Of course, "the common good" of our "shared historical memory" has more to do with the cruel tyranny of superstitious tribal and familial obligation.
"On God's Side"? - god dam you, if there was one, or a place to dam you to.

Apr. 01 2013 11:49 AM
Jacqui from East Village

Church and state?

Why is it being combined?

The two systems are fundamentally, intrinsically, different.
In order to have a fair, reasonable, balanced democratic society they can only function separately.

Apr. 01 2013 11:38 AM
john from Office

This is such nonsense, witch doctor in western clothes.

Apr. 01 2013 11:38 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

There has also been a long trend to be dismissive and contemptuous of males in popular culture and politics -- it's an instant applause line for some political cohorts (particularly white males, but middle-aged males in general.)

You look at how many women are having children on their own, using sperm donors or adoption, and how the idea that it's perfectly OK for a single woman to raise children on her own -- again, a long trend, and you see how the role of men and particularly fathers in society has declined in status.

And this has ironically happened while research has shown more & more how important fathers are for the long term well-being and happiness of children. And as the last couple of fathers have been more emotionally involved in their children's lives than previous generations.

But those important trends don't seem to get much traction in the media, which seems to get their jollies tweaking the noses of the people who hold onto older traditions: Father, mother, children, family. There doesn't seem to be much satisfaction in supporting the status quo.

Apr. 01 2013 11:35 AM

How 'bout just doing away with both absurd, obsolete institutions; the church AND marriage??

Apr. 01 2013 11:32 AM

Hear, hear...M-NYC from Manhattan!!

Apr. 01 2013 11:30 AM
maureen kelleher from hoboken

you won't marry gay couples., and you hide behind the youth of your staff.; and didn't answer the question. pretty lame and afraid.

the most vulnerable are those who are mentally ill ( and medicagted out the wazoo) and incarcerated. they can't think, ask for help, and can't get to anybody to help them.

I'm a death row investigator.
I've saved 2 innocents from execution and got them released.part of a team of those who go the extra mile, again and again, and again.
and we don't go on the radio. but radio's fine..

just grow up to the next level.

you're stuck at cliched and safe and expected.

Please have bigger balls, quit promoting your book so much

, and get to more deep, more concerned work. Do more. You're about halfway there;;;

with yearning for pats on the back ego intact

and basking in the limelight. Pretty half baked.

keep going deeper. You're on the right track, but
you've got such a platform to really kick ass.

don't be afraid to really go deep.
you are in your 60's I hear; keep going deeper. You're not there yet.
Me either.

Apr. 01 2013 11:29 AM
MikeInBrklyn from Clinton Hill

I would posit that one should not and do not need religion to care for the poor and to find common ground with others. The religious crutch is often used to justify cliche-ique like behavior, that often lead to contradictions because action is taken because one does what is expected, rather than what is innate.

I prefer spirituality to religion because it does not need reference to a deity or leader to justify how one acts/reacts.

Apr. 01 2013 11:29 AM
tom from astoria

Is Mr. Wallis aware of how the conservative movement is getting the Catholic bishops to push a political agenda DURING THE MASS in catholic churches? Alway around election time we get alarmist pamphlets inserted into our weekly paper. I find it outrageous that the likes of Carl Rove are prapagandizing IN MY CHURCH. How about the politics that is making itself known in my Catholic Church?

Apr. 01 2013 11:28 AM
M-NYC from Manhattan

It was only very recently that marriage had much to do with love. Marriage was a method of defining and consolidating property and inheritance, legitimized publicly through ritual and enforced in law. It would be wonderful to get all religions out of this discussion and out of the public square. I and my fellow non-theists do not accept that simply being a member of the clergy gives anyone 'standing' in these issues. Rev. Wallis is a Good Witch in the world of religion, but I wish they would all go away.

Apr. 01 2013 11:28 AM
Dan K from park slope

It's not accurate to say that without the religions of this country the poor would be poorer and hungrier. Many atheists would argue that without religion, we wouldn't use "charity" to make ourselves feel better about helping others out of pity. We would instead have government programs that eliminate the need for charity entirely, and take care of all of the basic needs of our fellow citizens. For example, most Scandanivian countries have zero poverty, achieved by caring government, not "charity" or "pity."

Apr. 01 2013 11:26 AM
Mike from Jersey City from New Jersey


I must say, if you were to replace the phrase "religious right" with "the Jews" (my wife's people, BTW) or "the Blacks" Brian and Rev. Wallis' discourse would be considered fantastically offensive.

It is not clear to me how replacing one form a bigotry with another -- however smooth its language -- represents progress.

How about making to effort to see that actual valid concerns expressed by both sides?

Apr. 01 2013 11:26 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Still blathering over that dying "institution" called "marriage?" Ha! Humbug!

Apr. 01 2013 11:24 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Right now we're killing the unborn, who are poor and vulnerable.

Apr. 01 2013 11:20 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

It's not only lower economic classes in which marriage is losing out -- there has been a tendency to be dismissive of marriage amongst the educated elite for decades. Didn't I hear that near 50% of kids are born before marriage or out of marriage?

Apr. 01 2013 11:14 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Chesterton said that he could discuss issues with anyone because all that was needed was to have some assumptions in common. If he met a Satanist, he said, he could not have a discussion, because their were no shared assumptions. The groups arguing against in each other today are getting closer to having no assumptions in common, unfortunately.

Apr. 01 2013 05:44 AM

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