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Final Essay: Common Good Letter from Birmingham Jail (Essay Sample)


Between August and December, we have read, studied, and discussed several works loosely tied together by the theme of the Common Good.
In Plato’s The Republic, Socrates (Plato) insists that only individuals who are committed to universal laws and truths and who can protect and preserve them for the sake of the common good, are fit to rule the city.
***Write an essay based on one or more of the works you have read for class this semester, and argue why this work/these works do/do not fit on a list of works tied to the Common Good.
Make sure you support your claims with outside sources. Also include examples from the text(s) you have read to support your claims.
Please select 1 or 2 from the following works
**Jefferson, Thomas, et al. The Declaration of Independence.
**Jenner, Edw. Vaccination Against Smallpox. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1996.
**King, Martin Luther, Jr. Letter from Birmingham Jail.
*Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. The Communist Manifesto. New York, NY:
International Publishers, 2011 [1948].
*Ober, J., N. J. Norman, and M. C. Carnes. The Threshold of Democracy. Athens in 403 BCE.
4th edition. New York, NY: W.W. Norton. 2015.
*Plato. Republic. Tr. C.D.C. Reeve. 3rd edition. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett
Publishing, 2004.
*Wollstonecraft, Mary. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Mineola, NY: Dover
Publications, 1996.


Final Essay: Common Good
Final Essay: Common Good
The concept of the common good has been used for years to justify actions that would otherwise be questioned by a majority of people. Governments use this concept to make major decisions when confronted with the choice of sacrificing some things or people to help a greater number of people. This text focuses on the work of Martin Luther King Jr. “Letter from Birmingham Jail” to determine whether it is fit to be tied to the concept of common good. Martin Luther King Jr. is one of the earliest activists at a time when racial segregation was so common, especially in the Southern United States. A non-violent demonstration in Birmingham led to the arrest and jailing of King and following his arrest; a statement was released terming the demonstrations as untimely and unwise (King, 1963). The “Letter from Birmingham” was written by King in response to the statement, and several elements of his work make it fit to be tied to the theme of the common good.
First, King writes that the non-violent demonstration was a means of calling for action to resolve racial segregation in Birmingham. According to Etzioni (2015), the common good is used to describe “goods that serve all members of a given community and its institutions…” In his letter, King notes that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” This statement alone validates his work as one done in the promotion of the common good. King understood that for justice to be protected across all states in America, something had to be done to reduce the rate of injustice in some of the states. Thus, his work was not only meant to shed light on the state of affairs in Birmingham but also to ensure that what was happening in Birmingham would not spread to every other state in America. His work acknowledges the importance of justice to all Americans, regardless of where they live. In his letter, King further noted that as long as a person lived within the United States, they could not be viewed as outsiders and in this sense, his work focuses on protecting all Americans as a community.
Second, King’s work is mainly based on the concept of feeling concern for the interest of other people. He writes that civil disobedience is justified if it allows people to take care of others, regardless of what the existing laws demand. He states that he would stand against laws that oppressed Christians or Jews, same as he was standing against laws that oppressed black people in America (King, 1963). His work reveals that to him, what matters is standing in solidarity with one another against the oppressors. This is line with what Hussain
(2018) Terms as “solidaristic concern” when describing the concept of the common good. The solidaristic concern, in this case, implies that an attack on one ind

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