The Role of Individual in the Development Process, Part 4

Exploring the framework for a “Balanced Development” model

 

Ramses Rashidi

©2008 Center for Balanced Development (www.cbdus.org)

 

In the last three articles we talked about the roles of the “conformist”, the “monk” and the “revolutionary” in a social setting. Here, we’re going to take a further look at the different roles that individuals play in society and its impact on the development process.

 

The Artist

Throughout history, human beings have used the arts as a means of communication. In the ancient times, the focus was to communicate cultural and social norms and values through the arts. It is written that, Confucius, the famous Chinese philosopher, who himself was a musician, would listen to the local music during his travels to get an idea about the local social and economic development conditions.  Today, this observation is probably true for many regions of the world as well. The modern popular artist including performers, painters, film-makers, designer and writers, although primarily in the business of expressing self and the chaos of individualism, still reflects, to some degree at least, the social mood.

 

Technology and access to television, radio, the Internet and print media has given artists wide-exposure, thereby leading to a super-hero status in society. Today’s artists exert tremendous influence on the public. In some cases they are literally worshiped. Whether we are listening to music, reading a book, watching a movie, sports or a TV show we are being influenced while being entertained by the creators and the performers. Many of our choices in life and even cultural tendencies are indirectly generated by these artists through our constant exposure to their creations in mass media. Here, it’s interesting to note that even though the artist’s impact on us, particularly on children and youth, is quiet profound; yet we don’t seem to be disturbed by what’s being presented. Violence, destruction, killings, controversy, deceit, anger, apathy and unethical behavior are, for most part, the ingredients for popular songs, artwork, movies and novels. Meanwhile we seem to be the captive audience who generously supports this trend.

 

A good portion of today’s artists and creative individuals are far removed from the ideals of life and what constitutes a healthy social environment. The trend in portraying self and personal dilemmas does not leave much room for creative work that is empowering and inspirational. Here, the notion of irresponsible expression is interpreted as “freedom”. In practice, this self-centered attitude of artists may lead to difficulties in their ability to have steady and solid interpersonal relationships. For the modern and seemingly progressive artist, moderation seem to be a strange word with limited application, while responsibility is a nice concept that has become as abstract as Picasso’s paintings. It’s time for some serious reflection on the impact of the arts on the advancement of civilization.

 

Artists as Agents of Development

With the arts playing such an influential role on society, the artists are, in essence, active agents of social and economic development and societal change. Arts can foster human potential, promote peace and social harmony, cause environmental awareness, advocate moderation, and set the stage for balance in economic activities. The artists, expressing themselves through music, visuals and literature, can be very effective in encouraging and inspiring the masses towards building a spiritual civilization. Here, the arts act as the guiding force behind a balanced development initiative. Undoubtedly we have a long way to go before we reach the place where artists serve as luminaries of the age of enlightenment, in the meantime, as individuals, we can start to take action by not financing violence and questionable contents in the arts. In a proactive mode, we need to focus on supporting the types of artists who are struggling to lead us towards the ideals of unity, balance and human excellence.

 

The Scientist

Nobody exerts more influence on today’s society than the scientist. We are surrounded and fascinated by science. The modern society is so dependent on science and technology that it’s difficult to even imagine what life would be like without it. Today, scientists have an almost divine status in society. The words “scientific” and “truth” are synonymous. What the scientists find is considered true until someone can prove it otherwise. Science defines our lives and scientists define the development trends.  The scientists make the discovery, the inventor creates applications, the engineer makes the product and the entrepreneur promotes it. 

 

As a scientist you could be involved in archeology, biology, chemistry, electronics, geology, math, physics, agriculture, psychology, sociology or management. However, no matter what the field of science, the life of the scientist is about doing research and coming up with theories. The scientist lives in a world of never-ending quests for finding and proving the next big theory that could change our lives. In this process much research and experimentation are called for. Long hours in the lab and endless hours of searching for the missing link means little time for self, family and friends. The typical picture of a scientist is probably someone perpetually in deep thoughts.

 

The current model of a scientist, like any other role in society, is fragmented and often single-dimensional. The scientist knows much about his/her field at the expense of not having time for understanding self, relationships, and other fields or disciplines. So the scientist is well-connected with their expertise but loosely connected to other aspects of life. Feelings are often difficult for the scientist to deal with since almost everything is connected to a logical process. Having a high status in society, scientists can be somewhat arrogant in expressing their opinion to the point of being biased about their expertise.  

 

The Manager

Here the scientist, instead of dealing with things, plants or microscopic creatures, is dealing with human beings. It is a very unique situation where the scientist is involved in planning (research), resourcing (human, natural, technological and financial) and organizing (theory) an entity. There are many theories about the science of management. It can be purely based on achieving results or exclusively implemented through relationships. Today’s manager, however, like any scientist is having difficulty connecting the dots between personal relations and professional life. The science of management, interesting enough, is moving towards integration within the organization while inter-industry correlations and integration into the bigger social picture seem light years away.

 

 

Scientist in a Balanced Development Model

Like every other role, as scientists we need to look at all the variables that make up the big picture. On one hand, the scientist must be able to focus on the research and development which should start early on in life in a modified education system. On the other hand, the scientist must be able to allow time for self, family and social connections in life. He/she must find a creative outlet and an art form as a balancing act. The scientist should also see how his/her knowledge is connected to other fields and industries. The realization that only a holistic approach to life will lead to balance in personal, social, ecological and economic development, will help the scientists to approach things in a much more comprehensive way, and therefore contributing to the advancement of  civilization in the present time as well as the future. In this model, the economic efficiency reaches its optimum while the natural and human resources are properly utilized and social relations are constantly strengthened.

 

In the next articles we will continue to examine the role of the individual in the development process.

 

Ramses Rashidi (ramses@cbdus.org) is the founder and director of Center for Balanced Development.

The center is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing resources and services to foster global balance in social, personal, ecological and economic development.