It must be clear that development is not only about the growth of the economy in general; it is about the development of the human being with his/her capabilities and relationships with intermediary social groups (family, social, political, cultural groups etc.) within which he/she lives. This requires a change in perspective that recognises peoples as united by a common factor, their humanity being created with the imprint of the common God creator. Only by starting from this premise can we aim, within pluralist institutions, toward the achievement of the common good, which needs to be the primary objective of any society. The common good is neither an abstract goal nor a simple list of targets. It is simply the realisation of the primary needs of the person: the need of truth, love, and justice. These needs cannot be completely fulfilled but, by nature, the human being tends to support the tension of aiming toward their fulfilment.
As the world’s bishops stated in the Vatican II Council document, “Gaudium et Spes”: “Because of the increasingly close interdependence which is gradually extending to the entire world, we are today witnessing an extension of the role of the common good, which is the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfilment more fully and more easily. The resulting rights and obligations are consequently the concern of the entire human race. Every group must take into account the needs and legitimate aspirations of every other group, and even those of the human family as a whole” (n. 26).
This is the essence of development, and it is something that concerns every person, rich and poor, because every man is always in development. In fact, development is not a target to reach; it is rather a path to follow: we can say that there is true development when persons are put in a position to follow their most important desires and needs. Following this premise, it is clear that the tension toward the common good finds its fulfilment within the relationships that human beings establish among each other. The common good, therefore, is fulfilled within belonging, within a people. As stated by His Holiness John Paul II: “Man, in keeping with the openness of his spirit within and also with the many diverse needs of his body and his existence in time, writes this personal history of his through numerous bonds, contacts, situations, and social structures linking him with other men, beginning to do so from the first moment of his existence on earth, from the moment of his conception and birth” (Redemptor Hominis, n. 14).
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