With reference to the common good, we may formulate a tentative conclusion about the narrative of Pharaoh: Those who are living in anxiety and fear, most especially fear of scarcity, have no time or energy for the common good. Anxiety is no adequate basis for the common good; anxiety will cause the formulation of policy and of exploitative practices that are inimical to the common good, a systemic greediness that precludes the common good. “Orange alert” is a poor beginning point for policy!
By the end of the book of Genesis, we have a deteriorated social situation consisting in Pharaoh and the state slaves who submit their bodies to slavery in order to receive food from the state monopoly. All parties in this arrangement are beset by anxiety, the slaves because they are exploited, Pharaoh because he is fearful and on guard. The narrative of the book of Exodus is organized into a great contest that is, politically and theologically, an exhibit of the ongoing contest between the urge to control and the power of emancipation that in ancient Israel is perennially linked to the God of the exodus.
Take a moment to reflect on your calendar. What things are urgent and why? What space do you have planned in your life that is not rooted in “solving” “producing” “maximizing” or “eliminating anxiety?” This shared commitment to the common good will come at odds with the cult of “busy is better” and “more is better.” Why not call a friend now and plan a space that is not urgent; space to connect about your dreams; space to enjoy food or laughter, space of freedom in which you are not responsible to control the outcome.
Brueggemann, Walter. Journey to the Common Good (p. 7). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.