The fundamental question asked by virtually every freshman who takes HUM2305 at the University of Florida is the very title of the course: "What is the 'Good Life'?" At its very core, the notion of the "Good Life" is the idea of a world in balance, the idea of a world where unification and peace exist among its citizens. While many positive strides have been made by societies seeking to achieve the "Good Life," every action to this end has a consequence that manifests itself as a cost to the "Good Life" and its yearned-for attainment. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," and Dr. Melissa Lane, in her common lecture on what she has dubbed "sustainable citizenship," present the refusal to fight for social justice and the common good as one such action that imposes a psychological cost to the "Good Life" by distorting its very essence as a communal ambition and making it an individual pursuit based on selfish ends rather than the desire for universal, harmonious citizenship.
The aforementioned perversion of the nature of the "Good Life" is the psychological consequence for societies who refuse to fight for the common good. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. carefully examines this consequence in his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," throughout which he describes the fight for equality and unity as almost nonexistent for some groups of people. In his letter, King portrays himself as a soldier for social justice who fights for the common good through love and nonviolent direct action (King). Three forces oppose King and his cause: white moderates, complacent Negroes, and black nationalist groups (King). These three entities ignore the fight for the common good, and the consequence of their inaction is the perpetuation of segregation in society. The vehicle by which their ignorance of social justice perpetuates segregation is time, which King describes as a neutral force that can be used either constructively or destructively to propagate existing social conditions (King).