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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Prudence and Integrity Lead to Peace and Development

Peace and development, as key socio-economic themes, have never ceased to be important and relevant, particularly to the so-called "developing" and "under-developed" countries.

Although these two themes, of late, have been viewed with suspicions, especially when they are highly politicized, taken out of their proper context, and blown out of proportion, their significance can be considered almost commonsensical, if not instantaneously self-evident.

Whatever sophisticated and derived meanings that have been imparted to them, they will never lose their basic significance.

In fact, it is their basic sense which renders them forever relevant and of interest to many, if not all, parties concerned with societal well-being and individual happiness.

And in many respects as well, their basic sense has a lot to do with what the late Mortimer J. Adler used to call "common-sense philosophy," or "philosophy for everybody."

Development, in a fundamental sense, implies progress.

And progress, in the real sense, always involves overall betterment, both quantitatively and qualitatively.

So, if a society sooner or later finds itself in a situation which under a fair and balanced assessment is not better than what it used to be in, then it can certainly not deem the new situation development nor progress, new though it indeed is.

Furthermore, development and progress as something yet to be realized has to do with the future, with what lies ahead of one's actual time.

Non-actual though it is at that point of time, if one is indeed serious about achieving it, one has to have a clear vision of it, reasonably plan for it, and realistically carry out all the tasks necessary to make it work.

In this sense therefore, instead of remaining confused and ambiguous, it has to be clear and real to one's intelligence as well as cognitive imagination.

Not only that, if its realization demands a certain sort of "team-work," the vision will then need to be effectively communicated, believed in, and shared by the members of the team.

However, for such members to be part of the vision and mission, they need to have acceptable minimum trust not only in the vision but also---and indeed more importantly---in the one who has such a vision.

In addition, for development in the normal sense of progress to obtain, a fair amount of peace and stability is necessary.

Nonetheless, peace and stability, if misunderstood, or taken in an extremely negative sense, eventually kills dynamism, creativity and entrepreneurship which are sine-qua-nons for development and progress.

Similarly, dynamism, creativity and entrepreneurship inappropriately unleashed or pursued in an unbalanced manner may be counterproductive and, rather than lead to further development and progress, may result in unnecessary chaos.

In fact, a right amount of socio-economico-political peace and stability is always necessary at every stage of development to maintain a positive momentum for further progress.

In this respect therefore, a fair presence of peace and stability, just like dynamism and creativity, can be considered to be a constitutive element of development and progress.

Yet, how can a society achieve an appropriate level of peace and stability to develop and progress even further?

To do so, it surely needs good leadership as much as it depends on good "followership."

And such leadership, upon further analysis, certainly has to comprise prudence and integrity.

For it is something well-grounded in collective human experience, if not intuitive, that a good leader can only succeed to accomplish his vision and mission if he is trusted by those whom he leads.

But the trust must be on some things or are due to certain factors, of which two are important: one is his prudence, which is intimately related to the reasonable end he as well as his followers is heading to, and the other is his reliability, his trustworthiness, his truthfulness---in short, his integrity as a person.

The former factor, in a sense, pertains to his true knowledge and vision whereas the latter one, to his good acts and behavior; yet both are mutually related in an organic sense.

It is clear, therefore, that good leadership cannot but include two important elements: One is prudence, sagacity, foresight or far-sightedness, which reflects one's sound knowledge and true vision; and the other is integrity, which is really good character and behavior made manifest.

What Islam means by the former element is well-projected by the term tadbir, which originally means one's intellectual deliberation over the outcome of a matter or an affair, followed either by one's implementation of it if the outcome is praiseworthy or one's rejection of it if the result is estimated to be blameworthy.

Unfortunately, the term has been loosely considered by the present-day Muslims to be an equivalent of the ambiguously defined "administration," "management," or "governance" and, as such, is wrongly differentiated by them from "leadership."

Integrity, on the other hand, is defined in Islam in relation to the concept projected by such key terms as truthfulness (sidq) and trustworthiness (amanah), as opposed to lying (kidhb) and treachery (khiyanah), and having to do with honoring one's words, keeping one's promise, and ably carrying out one's contract at various levels and in numerous modes.

Only when there exists mutual trust in one another's words and character can two or more parties live in peace with each other and work together to achieve something better.

Hence, as implicit in the foregoing paragraphs, it is necessary that prudence-and-integrity-oriented leadership be nurtured and prevail in order to foster peace and development.

For prudence has a lot to do with well-guided development and progress while integrity is very much pertinent to the obtainment of peace and stability.

Otherwise, one will have to devise sophisticated mechanism to work out anything, yet again to come to realize at the end that another modus operandi as complicated and costly as, if not worse than, the earlier mechanism needs to be put in place to achieve it.

Yet, even this does not guarantee any meaningful progress!

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