The Role of Community in the Development Process, Part 2

Exploring the framework for a “Balanced Development” model


Ramses Rashidi

©2008 Center for Balanced Development (


In the last article we talked about the role of the family, friends and neighbors in the development process and its impact on the greater community. Here, we’re going to take a look at the role of nations and global community at this time in the evolution of civilization.


State / Nation / Country

Whether you call it a “state”, “nation” or “county”; the idea of a group of people that share something in common and live in a defined geographical area, separated from other nations or territories, has become part of our identity in the modern history. Today, It’s not unusual to start a conversation by asking someone “Where are you from?” The answer to this question often is not easy. You could be born in a country but raised in another. You parents could be from two different countries or you could have dual citizenship. In any case, feeling patriotic is popular. We design events like the Olympics where nationalism is celebrated and is the cause of pride and joy of a nation to beat another nation in a game. We even go to war to protect our idealogy, interests and safeguard our national identity. When it comes to development, as a nation, we are primarily concerned with our own well-being regardless of what happens in outside world.


It’s interesting how we have developed as human species. From living in the cave to walking on the moon, we have come a long way. Obviously, the needs and lifestyle of the hunter-gatherer primitive man were very different from the agricultural communities of the early civilizations. Likewise, The industrial age represented a great leap forward in our approach to life, requiring new perspective and ideas to manage our resources. In the process of progressive development of civilizations, human collective life has evolved from family unit and tribal culture to city-state and nationhood. This ever-advancing process of growth and development is perpetual and never-ending as it moves forward and we experience changes economically, socially and individually. It’s hard to imagine that we would go back to the ways of bygone ages. It’s really difficult to even think about how we would live without the basic technologies that have been developed in the last 100 years. Obviously, we cannot stagnate and become complacent. Neither can we think that we have reached the summit of achievement and that there is no need for more growth and maturity. So the concept of nation and territorialism have to move forward to the next level.


The events and developments of the past couple of centuries testify to the power of change and how life on the planet has gone through a complete turnaround. Even though we are trying to function as independent nations we realize that we are dependant on other nations for our needed natural resources and human expertise in order to advance our development. We realize that we cannot be tied up in our territorial sovereignty. In fact, we need to reach across the borders and collaborate with our neighboring nations as well as nations across the globe.


The modern nation, by necessity, is a complex mixture of government, public institutions, market, private entities, resources and people that work closely together to drive the economy. We must gradually make changes to one-dimensional political ideology in governance to embrace multi-faceted agenda that includes building relations, fostering human potential, protecting the environment and improve the economy. In essence, we need to move beyond capitalism, socialism or any other “ism” that limit us in our aspirations to reach higher grounds of understanding and collaborations. As Deng Xiaoping once had said; “The cat must catch mice. It does not matter whether it’s black or white.”


No matter where we live and who we are, our issues and challenges are similar. We are all in search of a meaningful and productive life. Every human being enjoys good health and the ability to function. We all need shelter, food, communication, education, transportation and entertainment. Most critical, we all need to have close and supportive relationships with our families, friends, neighbors, co-workers and communities. The larger the extent of relations, the more happiness and prosperity we experience. In the business world, we see the need for clients and suppliers to cross the traditional borders and boundaries. In a social sense, we must understand other cultures and nations. In terms of improving our lives, we are in need of importing and exporting to be able to sustain our needs and have a stronger economies. Therefore nationalism and protectionist measures don’t seem to be useful as we open up and connect the boxes that have been isolated. Global collaboration and integration is a must that no one can afford to ignore. This is like the functioning of human body cells. Each cell has its own unique identity but nevertheless it contributes unconditionally to the whole body and as a result itself becomes the beneficiary of the good health.   


Global Community

The idea of the oneness of mankind has become part of our human understanding. Nowadays, just about everyone realizes that we truly are a global community that is interdependent. We might have different religions, various political systems, diverse physical features or distinctive cultural norms but we understand that we are part of the global human family with very similar aspirations and concerns. When it comes to the economy we cannot survive without help from our global community. In the case of disaster, we are in need of each other’s help. In terms of the environment, we know that it’s a global issue to be addressed collectively.


Progressively, we are coming to the conclusion that the idea of a country or nation has served its purpose and it’s time to move on to the next level of human civilization. Globalization is no longer just a good idea but it’s a must to properly address our limited resource, to expand our level of collaborations and to ensure the basic necessities of life for all the inhabitants of earth. On this path, we can learn much from the formation and rise of the United States of America and the European Union as models for the emerging global community.


As a natural step and a transition mechanism towards globalization, there are numerous organizations, both governmental and non-governmental, that have emerged in the recent times. There are numerous associations and pacts all across the planet. To name a few of the major global organizations that are promoting global and regional collaboration and development are: United Nations (UN),  Assoication of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN),  African Union (former Organization of African Unity), The Union of South American Nations (modeled after EU),  Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) which is a forum for 21 Pacific Rim countries including; US, China, Canada, Japan, Australia, Mexico …..etc.


The process of globalization is taking place at all levels including economic, technological, socio-cultural, environmental and political. In some areas we are already very close to functioning as a global community. Trade, migration, services, cultural exchange and technology transfer are examples of the type of activities that are taking place at a growing pace. The globalization trend is picking up momentum as we become more aware of the development needs across the planet. At this point in history, the collective nature of human civilization is best served by further opening the channels of communication and collaboration at all levels to create the framework for the establishment of a global community.


In the next article, we will continue to examine the role of the institutions, both public & private, in the development process. 


Ramses Rashidi ( 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.


BD Article 032 En.doc