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GUEST OPINION: Let's strive for the common good

There are numerous Island examples where islanders come together year-in and year-out to host events for a good cause.
There are numerous Island examples where islanders come together year-in and year-out to host events for a good cause. - Contributed

I would like to suggest that in time of public crisis or calamity there is a need to give priority to the “common good” rather than individual interests or needs.

This term “the common good” is embedded in social justice parlance and also in community economic development discourse. Given the serious requirement to fulfil collectively public health directives to fight the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19 strain), there is merit in exploring how the common good is appropriated on Prince Edward Island. 

In my view, one of the strengths of Island society is a pronounced sense of community.  Some of the ways that this is exhibited is as follows:

  • A strong affiliation with a specific Island geographic locale.
  • A remarkable response to local charitable fundraisers.
  • An enduring commitment to community events and celebrations.

To further illustrate what I am referring to, I want to offer various examples of the above Islander attributes. For instance, it is always noticeable how Islanders seem to have a deep sense of pride regarding “where they come from”. Just think of folks you know who were born or raised in Kinkora, Tignish or Morell and are proud to tell you so!  
Similarly, consider the generosity of Islanders when they respond to the needs of a family who have lost their home because of fire or who have considerable medical costs because of serious health issues. Without a doubt Islanders are among the most generous Canadians.  

Finally there are numerous Island examples where folks (through the goodness of their hearts) come together year-in and year-out to host a living nativity display or a summer strawberry social or a local ceilidh….all for a good cause. In my view, these responses exemplify an enhanced sense of community on Prince Edward Island. 
Sociologists tell us that we are living in an era where individualism often trumps communal objectives. This may be true, but I suggest that there are cultural imperatives that can override such tendencies. An argument can be made that this is the case on Prince Edward Island. 

Accordingly, I maintain that Island society is more we-oriented than me-oriented. If one is willing to accept this proposition, then we have an added “weapon” in our arsenal against COVID-19.

What I am suggesting is that the Island community identity can be a collective resource or “force” if you will, that we can call upon to motivate and sustain joint action.

Let us celebrate the Island sense of community and bring it to the fore for the common good. In the coming weeks, the coronavirus is going to test our communal resolve and fortitude. In true Island spirit, let us show our community mettle and adhere rigorously to our medical health officer’s directives. Prince Edward Island may be the smallest province in Canada, but we can profile our strength, courage and determination by successfully facing together this public health crisis.  

Our common good depends on it!    


Gerald Gabriel is a member of Community Development Associates.

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