Progressive perspectives [Archives:2005/865/Community]

August 4 2005

By Mohammed Alsanabani

Many persist to attribute the differing political and economic successes of the world's peoples to biological or racial differences. Others appeal to cultural differences or to historical contingency. There is a forsaken hologram of the sociology and history of humanity that was and is a determinant of human development. This hologram is called progression, and it analyzes three basic dimensions that determined the development of certain human societies. They are mainly culture, environment and innovations that lead to better life conditions.

Why did human development proceed at such different rates on different continents? Before answering the question, the answer may seem to be a justification of the domination and prejudice against certain societies. In fact, it is more of an explanation to the reality that race does not affect the development of technology, but it is the human will and environment that determine the pace of advancement. A deeper intriguing insight into the question reveals how moral can the outcome of this question be, which is how can societies learn from history to initiate future development. Attitudes towards change and how society and environment shape the civilization are the subject matter. Humans' progressive thinking and how it developed throughout history will be of most concern as it is the moral principle raised.

What is meant by progressive thinking is openness to change. It is the fertility of accepting and utilizing innovations, physical and mental, to motivated growth; growth of knowledge, wealth, society and technology. Metropolitan humans are still stimulated in the same manner as hunters and gatherers, but now we are growth oriented and advancement seekers. We hunt for higher income, bigger shelter, senior rank and better partners. This is a different perspective from hunters and gatherers. If a hunter gets a deer he stops hunting but a business man would keep on pursuing growth all day long. The reason behind this is that both the business man and the hunter have different perception about what is enough. The hunter seeks short term fulfillment of a need but the business man favors continuous growth. All this is due to progressive thinking or growth oriented attitude.

Societies that implement growth in their principles usually achieve dominance over others that do not. This is because they enhance their potential by evolving systems that enable them to control markets, economy and consequently resources. It is a similar concept to natural selection, as species that refuse environmental changes have a less chance of survival and often extinct, compared to those which adopt and adapt to changes that consequently permits them to have a better chance of survival. They develop techniques that suit the changes and use them to grow genes or means that assist their survival. A live example of this is that societies in New Guinea that adopted modern technology became more influential than the ones that remained hunters and gatherers. Although they still wear grass skirts, which reflect their attachment to their culture, they now own the farms and the production facilities because they were more receptive to change.

A big question arises about how to teach progressive perception and develop it as an intuitive behavior. An oversimplified answer would be to mould the personal behavior and world's culture into the one with greatest efficiency, as the cultures that didn't compete remained unsophisticated. If this was true then humans have had a long time to adapt and evolve, and if a single personality or culture resembled success then all humans would have changed personality or culture to ensure competitiveness. Besides, variance assisted human development as all human advancements did not originate from the same source and were not a monopoly of certain regions.

Finally, analyzing human history is not mainly to explain an outcome but it is for the lessons learned. The summary of human technology explains how the progressive perception can be a crucial factor in the destiny of a person or a civilization. Pursuing knowledge was one of Islam's main teachings that consequently lead to huge translation of books and scientific explorations in medieval Islamic Empire, Japanese temples bound Buddha's satisfaction with hard work, and over time it became a part of the Japanese culture. All this lead to a simple fact; progressive awareness evolves coherently with advancement by the principles set by the individual or culture.