Moral Dimension of Development
The Judaeo-Christian conception of human nature is tripartite, conceiving the human person as consisting of the body, the mind and the spirit. This idea of the human person is also found in many philosophical traditions dating back to the pre-Socratic era. That humans have a body is not controversial in any way, but philosophers have always grappled with issues relating to the existence and nature of the human mind and spirit.
While there is less controversy over the existence of the mind, there is a lot of disagreement over its actual nature and relationship with the body. Of the three components of the human person, the question of existence of the spirit appears the most problematic. A reason for this is that it is conceived to be immaterial and unverifiable in empirical terms. Perhaps this is the primary reason why many people prefer not to get embroiled in any debate on the existence and nature of the human spirit.
Moral Dimension of Development
Be that as it may, religion and morality are founded on the premise that humans have a spiritual component by virtue of which they are essentially connected, not just with the divine, but also with one another. It is also by virtue of this spiritual component that humans are morally conscious.
For humans to evolve a mind-set or mental disposition that will enable them to transcend their raw human instincts of selfishness, greed and lust, and evolve appropriate moral virtues that would enhance social trust and cooperation that are requisite for development in society, more attention should be paid to their spirituality. Conversely, less emphasis should be laid on the material aspect of existence.
The spirituality we are considering here should not be interpreted as mere mystical feelings, piety or devotion. Rather, it consists in the growing awareness of and respect for the essential interconnectedness and interdependence between all humans as well as the intricate connection between humanity and the divine.
This spirituality sees reality and everything in existence as essentially interdependent and interconnected such that no part can truly develop except other parts also enjoy some measure of development. It is required to overcome moral vices of selfishness, greed, abuse of power, crude materialism, corruption and other social ills that impinge upon the prospects of development in many societies.
From the above, it should be clear that human spirituality underlies morality, which in turn helps to define what is good and what is bad in relation to human decisions, actions and character. It enables us to assess the impact of our actions on others and on the environment. Indeed, the prospects of development in society depend significantly on the moral disposition of its members.
It requires the cultivation of a rational outlook to life and the promotion of human values so that we can make sense of our experiences and cultivate the right kind of attitudes to fellow humans, social institutions and society at large that would facilitate the process of development in society.
No doubt, for society to develop in a sustainable manner, there must be a correlation between the level of control human beings have achieved over the physical world and the mastery of the human world, that is human society itself. Unfortunately, while humans have achieved an impressive level of control over the physical world, as is evident in the great achievements recorded via science and technology, we have not achieved the same level of success in terms of human morality and spirituality. Many people are still slaves to basic instincts, personal desires and ambitions. This impede the readiness of people or groups of people to actually cooperate with one another, undertake requisite actions and make the necessary sacrifices for society to actually develop. For example, the dearth of such moral values as honesty and probity in managing public affairs and assets, the disposition towards unlawful acquisition, falsehood, hatred, envy, jealousy, lust, and other moral vices underlie much of the developmental problems confronting many countries in Africa.
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