Understanding Social and Economic Development

The systems and theories that have promised answers to our social and economic problems have failed to deliver. A proper understanding of the past is important to understand the present and to responsibly prepare for the future. Many non-governmental organizations (NGO) have prepared statements to contribute to the understanding of social and economic development. One of these, “The Prosperity of Humankind,” offers some insight into this problem.

It says that the advancement of civilization to this point has been slow and sporadic. Many theories and conceptualizations concerning human history have been proposed. The materialistic interpretations and assumptions underlying much of the current thinking concerning human history need reexamination, as they fail to adequately explain human development. The story of human development can more properly be seen as an evolving process. Not only have humans evolved physically, they have also evolved in the moral, social, and intellectual domains. This advancement is evident, and the next stage in this evolutionary process is here.

This remarkable century has witnessed the growing awareness of the interdependence of the planet on several levels. As humanity has advanced through ever-higher and broader levels of unity, clearly the next logical stage in the ongoing progression of civilization is the unification of the planet. The comparing of the world to the human body is useful in understanding the relationship of the various parts to the whole. The cells of the body can be compared to the individuals in the body of the world. The cell not only contributes to the body, but also receives from it. No cell lives outside the body, but derives its meaning and well-being from its relationship with the whole. The cells are differentiated and perform certain functions, but they all work together to produce a healthy organism that in turn benefits the individual cell.

The more complex and developed an organism, the more it is characterized by unity in diversity. This great principle can also be seen in human organizations. In simple societies every cell performs essentially the same tasks, such as hunting and gathering. As civilization has advanced, individuals have been allowed more opportunities to develop individuality and specialization, which in turn has fueled the further advance of the human body.

The result of the collective working together of the cells of the body is human consciousness; the result of the collective working together of the peoples of the world is a collective human consciousness that leads humanity forward to ever-higher levels of progress. The collective human development might be compared to the development of individual human consciousness that occurs in the stages of individual development such as childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Using this comparison, the world is collectively entering its adulthood.

A first step toward solving any problem is to define the problem and to then visualize a solution. A historic transformation in individual and collective human consciousness is occurring throughout the planet. It will result in the spiritual and material well-being of all its peoples.

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About rodclarken

Dr. Rodney H Clarken is professor emeritus, School of Education, Northern Michigan University.
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