Aristotle and Maria
Common good describes all acts executed by an individual with the aim of according collective benefits to individuals within a certain community. This includes the institution of community structures, working organizations, and the working setting that people interact with in a befitting manner. Maria is a Mexican woman who immigrated in the United States in search of better employment for supporting her family and relatives within her nation of origin. Maria was raised in poverty because her parents could not afford to offer her a substantial provision of the required basic needs. Although her parents worked very hard to provide what they could, their earnings were not enough to provide for the household’s needs (Kessler 64).
According to Aristotle, common good is only accomplished when the focus is transferred from desiring own external goods to performing activities that encourage the sharing of resources. This is demonstrated by Maria’s selfless purpose in her relocation to the US. When Maria became an adult, she wanted to find opportunities that would offer her substantial income to support her family back at home with monetary aid for needs provision. Therefore, Maria immigrated to Los Angeles and acquired a job in the textile industry. With her income, Maria is able to transfer her efforts towards meeting collective needs as stated by Aristotle.
Aristotle also notes that acts of discrimination act as a constraint towards achieving a common good. Prejudice is motivated by over accumulation of scarce external goods such as riches, reputation, power and excessive needs. This is witnessed in Maria’s working setting within the textile industry. The employers treated the staff unfairly by making them work for long hours and under paying them or sometimes neglecting to advance the required wages. Maria went through very challenging obstacles because she worked for long durations and still had to handle the responsibility of taking care of her children since her husband was away most of the time and did was not accountable as the family provider (Made in L.A., 2007). This made it hard for Maria to support both families within the US and Mexico (Kessler 71). However, she still struggles to offer the little support she could afford and this achieved a common good to her family and relatives.
Maria’s sister, Lupe, back in Mexico remained with her brothers and father after her mother’s demise. Lupe was actually the only female figure left in the family and as a result, she bore a huge share of responsibilities including performing most of the major household duties like cleaning, cooking and laundry work. This selflessness matches Aristotle’s viewpoint of achieving a common good. Note that, all the mentioned household work was done for the collective good. Lupe was mistreated by her father such that she got very depressed to the extent that she tried to kill herself by taking a whole bottle of sleeping pills. Therefore, Lupe just like Maria handled prejudicial forces in a manner that achieved common good to her family, prior to the suicide instance. When she woke up, she decided to call her sister Maria, who offered an opportunity for her to go and live together in the United States.
Maria gave her sister a new positive outlook on life because she arranged for a slot within the textile business that she was working. As Maria and her sister Lupe continued working for the textile industry known as Forever 21, the employer still mistreated them through long working durations and underpayments. The two women faced the prejudicial forces because they were immigrants from underprivileged regions and they were only able to communicate in their native language (Kessler 65). Aristotle also explains that the concept of common good is achieved when community members indulge in collective activities stemming from a common problem. This can be related to the period where Maria realized that they were other workers within the organization, suffering from oppressive instances due to relocations and racial factors.
Maria, with the aid of her family, relatives and other Mexican workers decided to initiate a movement that would make an impact in her Mexican community that was denied various rights in the working place. She gathered Mexican employees within the given workforce and empowered them in disapproving the company’s injustices. The mini-union wanted to sue Forever 21 for refusing to pay their salaries and lying by claiming that they owned no Mexican workers. Through this activity, Maria enhanced common good by spreading justice within the Mexican community in terms of employment needs.
Aristotle also stated that common good is not only derived from knowledge factors, but also from genuineness, such that it is better to risk destroying what is close to us if it is the only way to stand by the truth. For example, Maria was willing to risk going to jail and her children been taken away from her for initiating the protest, for the motive of ensuring that the Mexican Community had an opportunity exposing injustices evident in Forever 21. The mini-union protested many times but their struggle bore no fruit because the company even attempted to sue them for their actions. Most Mexicans gave up on the demonstrations; they lost optimism and stopped the protests.
Maria and Lupe held a meeting with the other Mexican workers in a bid to encourage them not to give up on their mission towards attaining labor rights. As a result, the group modified its protesting strategies to more effective approaches (Made in L.A., 2007). After some few years, the court decided to appeal the given case, which was successful as the company signed an agreement stating that they would compensate the employees’ salary and treat them equally and in accordance to the US laws. As part of the positive outcome, some of Maria’s close relatives got opportunities to travel to other countries to expand in their clothing business and acquire superior education that enabled them to qualify applying for other jobs other than for the textile industry. Maria also influenced her relatives in Mexico to look for working opportunities in other nations in order to maximize their ability to the fullest potential and be able to provide for their families. This created a multiplicity factor in the enhancement of the common good, as the aided individuals were also able to aid their relatives and families.
Borrowing from Aristotle’s definition of the common good, where specific social life allows the members of a community to get an opportunity to achieve their own accomplishment, the American society has contributed to the common good initiated by Maria since they accepted the negotiation terms covering the Mexican workers (Made in L.A., 2007). Aristotle’s explanation of common good held that societal needs were greater and more fulfilling in terms of accomplishment than that of an individual. This is evidenced by the benefits of the mini-union in contrast to Maria’s achievements within the family. For example, through the joint efforts of Maria, her relatives and other Mexican workers, the laborers experienced significant benefits such as wage increases and a reduction in the work duration (twelve to eight hours a day).
Reflecting on Aristotle’s point, common good is derived from a joint approach acquired from collective decisions and actions of citizens within a given country. The American society did not contribute much to Maria’s plight because the workers conditions were not fully met despite the given court settlement. Although wages were raised, they were still not able to sustain the workers’ needs. In addition, during the protests the government offered no support to the immigrants and thus leading to the problem’s progression. The American citizens also seemed very passive towards the issue. For example, when the Mexicans were demonstrating, the Americans just watched on and ridiculed the group by taking photos. Only a few Mexicans that lived in America volunteered to help Maria and her group to sue the company.
Kessler, Gary E. Voices of Wisdom: A Multicultural Philosophy Reader. Belmont: Wadsworth, 1992. Print.
Made in L.A. Dir. Almudena Carracedo. Robert Bahar, Lisa Leeman, Bryan Donnell, Semilla Verde, 2007. Film.