Quaker Universalist Conversations

What is The Lesser Good?

A poem

Jonathan Ferguson is a freelance journalist, satirist, poet and author. He writes: “I help Brian K. White edit the long-running satire site Glossy News. See my Medium, Twitter and Facebook. If you find my work of interest, you can sponsor me on Patreon, or buy my books at Amazon and many other retailers. My life has been short up to now, but my art is increasingly long….”

What is The Lesser Good?

"it's raining again," by Cedric Lange https://www.flickr.com/photos/cedpics/

The only true God is
The Lesser Good.
The only true God is
Whatever is not reducible
To these external
And to those heteronomous

The nation
The race
The ethnicity
The culture
The planet
The species
The ecosphere
The universe

People are what count

If The Lesser Good
Means anything at all
It means precisely this.
‘The Divine’ is not found
Except in and with and among people
Which also means
Being amid one’s own self.
No God is more precious than the individual
No God is more precious than people
Not ‘The People’
Dare I state the blindingly obvious
But ‘people’
And I offer
Nothing in the service of The Greater Good
Nothing for the benefit of The Greater Good
But everything in the name of The Lesser Good
For no other name is given under heaven
Than the name of the individual
The name of the person
The holy fire of The Lesser Good
Let it burn me
And let me burn forever in the ecstasy of this whirling
My head is drunk
My soul intoxicated
My spirit reels with the giddy joy
Of an endless spiraling daybreak-wonder
I am the Lesser Good
I am the Lesser Good
Anyone is the Lesser Good
Anyone Good
Anyone is Good
We are Good

Author’s Reflections

Every vision of God risks being an idol. As we spiral further and further out in wonder evidently unknowable and unknowably present-to-heart, we find every last foothold crumbles and melts into feathers before the silent, still, small, galloping of our feet.

Whether our ‘God’ be nation, race, species, planet, or even the whole of creation, none of these possess a value independent of the person.

Even God desires us to respond in love to his own frailty and weakness and need for us. This is the unspoken, shameful and redeeming secret of Christian tradition; if not even, perhaps, of all faiths.

The path of Universalism, of reaching out beyond boundaries and barriers, requires resolution and courage, because all Lesser Goods must be relinquished. To truly live in community with other people and with the Divine, the first and last refuge of ‘community’ must be renounced, if only in order to gain it again.

The one who wishes to gain the whole world, or the whole nation, or any other greater good, must be prepared to lose it, in all humility.

To renounce all hope of a Universal Interest shared by all people and all beings is fearful thing. Such a holy betrayal is a blazing fire, the same great holy fire St Isaac the Syrian attributed to those in Hell, who are consumed in love, but who do not and (thus far, at least) cannot know this love, and perceive it for what it truly is.

Those who spin like the Sufi and are not afraid of dizziness; those who enter the fire with their companions knowing that they will burn; these Daniels will fear the Lesser Good, but they will not be afraid of it.

One, Infinity, and Zero.

These all sound so different, do they not?

Image Source

It’s raining again, by Cedric Lange, on Flickr [Creative Commons – Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic ]


What a joyous poem I think, and then I realize I’m smiling. After all this negative tussle and deception, I may add, over the “lesser evil,” you come upon this reflection on the “lesser good,” which is marvelously positive and hopeful. Thanks.
Thank you very much, Joanne. I am glad and grateful it spoke to you.
Add a Comment