A change for sustainable development

Friday June 7 2019

 

As a society, we may collectively form an agreement to the fact that there is a necessity to propel ourselves from the state of poverty to that of plenty – we want that, and yes, we can do that, don’t we? We may also fundamentally agree to the fact that for us to reach at the state of plenty, which we again so much in need of, we need to make some primal changes – such as changing our model of socio-economic development, from an agriculturally based economy to an industrialized and services-based society.

And thus, a vision or a manifesto that affords us an opportune to move towards that direction would not only be a matter of political correctness, it is a fundamental necessity in our pursuit of a better life.

As we move towards such a direction, we, as a society, need to underscore the fact (and consciously understand) that this change process may take a generation or two – they say to achieve great things takes time.

What could therefore be largely achieved within a decade, despite all the good intent and purpose and discipline is actually setting the necessary groundwork, systems, structure, infrastructure as well as encourage and motivate a cultural change – which is the key ingredient in this process.

In this article, I will focus in the last aspect -- the cultural change.

As were, once we get the basics right -- such as the aspect of a society’s cultural aspects, and the embedded positive attitude, and the collectiveness for a purpose -- it then becomes relatively possible to pursue a cause, any humanistic cause.

Addressing the need for cultural change is pivotal in the process of economic growth, or technological change or any social transformation, since attitude and culture is the deepest and most determinative aspect of our human lives, our development and our growth.

And so, one of the key ingredients to national economic success, for example, is the culture of innovation and experimentation, the culture of intellectual freedom in which new ideas, technological methods and new products could emerge -- all these are cultural/attitude aspects.

And since all these depends on human resources capabilities within a society -- it then says that for us as a society to achieve the ambitions that we have set before us, it is fundamental that one of our key priorities should be to rigorously work on social fabrics that defines us as a society, and a country -- the culture.

To be able to change ourselves in any how we want, will require us to educate our communities and the society about where we want to go and the means (including skills and competences) that will get us there.

Once we decide on this -- we should also try to understand that it may probably take a whole generation to train us so that at such given moment we have skilled, intelligent, knowledgeable people who can become productive in whatever socio-economic venture we are set to pursue.

Who should do it? We could also form an agreement that despite, globalization and economic liberalization, and democratization of our governance and political system, but the state still have the role to create a setting or an environment in which people can live and thrive, and where they can freely express themselves and pursue their productive ambitions (of course within well administered rule of law).

That, the state could still have the significant role to create or influence or determine some cultural attributes and certain attitude within a society i.e. improving the level of human capacity, within our overall goals of human development.

And this is important because after all the best way that the society can sustainability develop is fundamentally embedded in what people do with their lives -- this is what determines economic success or failure of a society.

In the case a society has been fortunate to have a good cultural background within its own socio-economic fabrics --such as a belief in thrift and hardworking, a belief in continuous learning and self-improvement, and such related attitudes -- such society is grateful.

However, the truth is, not so many societies are such fortunate. In these cases, which are many by the way, it is the society’s leadership role to step in to enable the creation of economic growth based on proper cultural values and facilitate the necessary changes especially in crucial moments of moving from one social and economic structure to the other, i.e. agricultural to industrialization to services.

A society that has a culture that doesn’t place much value in continuous learning and scholarship, or emphasis in hard work and thrift, or the deferment of present enjoyment for the better future, or encouraging its people on doing the right things and what is right – then such a society, despite its good vision, properly documented manifestos, timely legislative actions, etc -- it’s process of growth and development would be much slower.

The argument so far has been, to be able to succeed in this endeavor, the society needs to get the basic fundamentals right -- for instance in addition to attributes mentioned above, encouraging savings and investments, developing the habit of spending within our means and encouraging the right financial discipline (for individuals, to families, to community, to the state), providing adaptive quality education, embracing and adapting economic and technological changes that matches our current situation (as we imagine it) while at the same time re-create its future, as well as developing practical policies with clearly targeted sectors, are some of the crucial elements for sustainable and inclusive growth that is based on how the society culturally behave.

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