Achievement, we know from experience, requires the expenditure of material means. Social and economic development, albeit with a spiritual and transcendent intention, is no exception. Antithetically, there are many societies, some of whom may consider themselves servants of the best interests of humankind, who gauge achievement in terms of the raw quantity of grants received, employees hired, and monetary resources consumed. Socioeconomic development (SED) programs of the future, are expected to utilize more accurate, humanistic, and noble outcome measures.
Communities generate funding for their own SED projects. Governmental or NGO donor agencies dispense grants to applicant organizations. In all cases however, funding should be utilized for the betterment of the people being served, not for the satisfaction of bureaucratic outcome measures imposed by the donors. Indigenous capacity building is the mainstay of authentic SED work.
Trust is paramount for the continued donation of funding. Systems, and not individuals, must be responsible for safeguarding the transparency and clarity of the financial operations of any SED organization. An eternity of financial drought will follow for every lapse of integrity in the process of money-handling. Not only is corruption of a willful and depraved manner unacceptable, but so too is the lackadaisicalness and imprecision characterizing so many governmental and charitable organizations. No wonder therefore at the little respect awarded to these organizations in popular conception. Inefficiency and incompetence are no less disillusioning than frank corruption. Evidence-based practices of financial regularity will serve as prophylaxis against an ethos that conduces to individual unscrupulousness.
Beyond concrete inputs and outputs, variables in a re-conception of efficiency should be expanded to include such things as creativity, selflessness, and sustainability of an employee’s motivation. We know that careerism can motivate people, but have we explored how spiritual values, self-sacrifice, and empowerment can motivate a work-force? Obsequiousness to one’s superiors accomplishes narrow aims. Camaraderie and unity in a collegial team-environment unleashes ingenuity and devotion that reach super-human levels of dedication and excellence. The love one bears for oneself is delusional and finite. The love we bear for each other can be infinite and inexhaustible.
Far-farsightedness, a virtue lost on modern financial giants, entails expanding goals to include intangibles such as interpersonal rapport and talent-vocation matching, instead of the management-worker relationship — the worker-worker relationship should take precedence. The firing and hiring of individuals as the fundamental action of human resource acquisition is the single-most destructive characteristic of modern economics. A vast and inexhaustible productive resource comes into existence in the interactions and familiarities professionals co-create together as they innovate the path to their next collective objective. The efficiency and joy, the exuberance and power of unity, as an intangible but positively priceless resource goes unquantified and unpurchased, altogether despoiled, as employers buy and sell individuals unaware of their collective efficiencies developed through mutual rapport.
The capacity of participants in SED projects to cooperate and coordinate united action determines their success. Over and above material inputs and outputs, a storehouse of spiritual and intangible resources remain as gems un-excavated from within the mine of human potential. Employment and production will reach summits of achievement when harmonious cooperation is sought as a resource along with personal abilities. Loyalty and consecration, resourcefulness and organizing ability, courage and zeal, tenacity, sagacity, fidelity, devotion, and vigilance–all these constitute the intangible powers of unity.
The triumph of selfless virtues testifies to the efficacy of their influence, an influence which should come to increasingly characterize the sphere of action in social and economic development. Material means are a treasure entrusted to an organization by those who make donations sacrificially, joyfully, and with a consciousness that its custodians will no doubt exercise an exalted attitude of scruples, gratitude, and economy in deference to the sacrifice that those donations entailed. To ensure the continued survival of SED organizations we have no doubt that such an attitude must and will be exercised.
The gap between one’s material means and one’s achievements is the measure of the potency of these spiritual virtues, and the proportion to which they have been utilized. Increasingly will these intangibles constitute the tipping point in the balance between forces of constructiveness and liberation on the one hand, and the forces of exploitation and individualism, on the other. The new centers of economic power will be the educational institutions that cultivate and reward intangible virtues of human character and spiritual ideals of unity and cooperation. By their aid and their insensible influence the truth will be made manifest in the realm of means as brilliant as it currently is in the world of spirit.