Truth and Light is the Solution
I wish I knew the answer. Well, I guess I might know the answer. Here’s a very crazy idea. If the human race were converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ we would have all things equal amongst us. Even if all these Mormons (including myself) in Utah Valley were truly converted to the gospel, I think this place would be pretty different. So, I think the underlying problem is the fallen man, and the fallen man is very susceptible to letting our egos define and drive us. When we become identified with the image that our ego creates as “ourselves”, we naturally generate perceptions that lead towards inequality. Suddenly there is an emphasis on the self, and the many problems such as corruption, greed, violence and conflict, ignorance, etc., all of which the ego survives off of.
So it seems clear to me that the biggest issue is a fundamental lack of spiritual enlightenment in those of us who are now living on the earth. But, even if every person’s nature was changed and enlightened through the atonement today, we would still have a formidable task of gaining the skills and education to complement our natures in order to solve the existing global problems. The Savior himself even declared, “All things unto me are spiritual”. So, I think that most of the socially innovative work we engage in, will in some way, be working towards the day when, with changed natures, we will be able to seize upon the progress we have made and completely eliminate problems we are dedicated to solving.
Besides these ideas, I’m not confident in which is the most important issue, or even issues for that matter. For this reason, I think that experimental research is extremely important. I think this is probably the best method we have for identifying root causes and effective solutions. While I’m not totally certain about the most pressing issue, I do think there are some areas that have a large impact on the development of communities and nations.
I think that there is a lot of research to back up the importance of education. I have seen a little bit of the research, and it also just makes sense, that education is a vital component. No matter how much money, jobs, medical clinics, infrastructure, or whatever else is needed for development, without the sufficient human capital of education, these initiatives will have minimal impact or fail. I’ve also seen personally how poor education systems can systematically produce dependency and shut down innovative thinking in their systems. I also believe that poverty is also largely influenced by mindsets that need to be broken in order for people to realize their potentials, and education plays a vital role in empowering people in this way. So, I think investing in providing quality education has some of the greatest returns.
I am also very interested in women’s empowerment. Research has shown there are far reaching effects for her and her family when a woman is educated. If a woman is the one who is making the income and making financial decisions in the family, she is much more likely to invest the money for her family’s future. There are also indications that the systematic insecurity of women is the greatest indicator of overall state security. I think these are testaments to the natures and dedication that women have towards their family and communities. So, I think that inclusion of women at all levels of development and in society is also a fundamental necessity, and I think this is true through divine design.