What is it that makes a nation, country, city, area, group of people, or even person, “sucessful”? The definition of “success” is of course a topic in itself, however in terms of places and groups of people the question could perhaps also be phrased as “What are the characteristics of a place (e.g. a country or a city) which makes people want to live there (or want to move there in order to live there)?” / “What are the characteristics of a group of people which other people would like to be surrounded by?”. For most people, factors such as levels of crime/safety, cleanliness, organisation, availability and quality of services, economy, and the overall quality of life / happiness of the people in that location / group would probably be considered. Of course there is adventure and exploration, but most people would probably not want to move to a crime-ridden (dangerous), dirty and run-down area with little work opportunities, given the choice.
Conversely, what is it that makes a group of people (for example, a country) “unsucessful”, and what needs to be done to remedy that?
If you have ever wished you could live somewhere else / considered moving, then please take a minute to consider the above questions. Did you simply want a larger house / property in exactly the same area? Did you want to move to a different area / city / country? Did you want to be closer to or further from some group(s) of people? What are the characteristics of the place / people which you wanted to move to, why did you want to move there?
The hypothesis of this article is that the overriding “secret of success” of a particular area, group of people, or person is “culture”. Not “culture” as in traditional foods and dress, but moral / ethical culture – a culture of kindness, fairness, responsibility, respect, generosity, industriousness, etc.
When thinking of “success”, economy (wealth or poverty) is often considered.
Is a wealthy – but unkind, unfair and corrupt – politician or businessman “successful”?
In the case of an unpleasant area which is also poor (an area which is unsafe due to high levels of crime, dirty and derelict, etc), would that area be better if the people there were simply provided with more wealth?
One of the solutions often proposed to combat poverty is skills education – schooling. For example, somebody may be taught engineering or medicine. Skills however, like wealth, are simply a “tool”; and the use of any tool depends entirely on the moral / ethical culture of the wielder. The tool in itself – skills education, wealth or otherwise – is neither good nor evil; it’s implementation by a person, as directed by their moral / ethical culture, is good or evil. It is thus important to make sure that a person has the correct culture, before equipping them with tools.
Doctors can use their skills to heal people, but they can also use them to trick people into having expensive operations which they don’t need.
Engineers can build tools and machines to make life easier for people, but they can also build defects into products in order to take advantage of people by forcing them to pay for unnecessary repairs or replacement at some future time.
The following diagrams illustrate the importance of a good moral / ethical culture, with regards to any tool which a person may be equipped with:
|Tool (Skills Education, Wealth, etc)||Tool (Skills Education, Wealth, etc)|
|Good Morals and Ethics (Kind, Fair, Responsible, etc)||Bad Morals and Ethics (Unkind, Unfair, Irresponsible, etc)|
|Person is a Force for Good||Person is a Force for Evil|
From the above diagram it should be obvious that moral / ethical culture is fundamentally more important than skills or wealth. Wealth in itself is relative – people judge wealth or poverty by comparison to the other people around them – and is thus not fundamentally important. This concept is a topic for another article, however in summary it could be said that “if you’re not starving, then any further material wealth is relative luxury”. In relation to the previous sentence, it should be noted that:
- Few people will condemn an otherwise good person who steals because they are starving. In a society with a good and kind culture however, a good person who is starving would be taken care of by the people around them.
- A good society would also be intelligent, fair and responsible enough to generally get to know and understand a person and their circumstances well, before throwing reckless charity at them (a drug addict, for example, is obviously probably not helped by an endless supply of reckless charitable finance).
In terms of economy, a society with a good culture is certainly going to do better than one which doesn’t.
- Public funds are used wisely to build the country up, due to less government corruption.
- There is less expenditure in terms of safety and security. Additionally, because something like a robbery generally results in far more damage for the victim(s) than it does “gain” for the thieves, there is also less overall loss in this respect.
- Because citizens are comfortable, safe and happy; they are able to focus more of their energies on being productive (rather than having to focus them on defending against the various evils, such as crime or extortion, which may be threatening them).
As a note, it may be thought that citizens which are comfortable may be lazy – laziness is however obviously an element of a bad culture, whereas a good culture encourages industriousness.
- Families help each other, and citizens help their neighbours and friends, to keep going in case of some need, accident or disaster. This is generally far more efficient than where people have nobody available or willing to help them in case of some temporary (or permanent) need.
Because “What People Want” in order to be happy is healthy relationships, having a good culture also results in an environment which is more conducive to the formation of healthy relationships, and therefore in happier people.
To compare between bad and good morals / ethics, and using “country” as an example:
In a country with averagely bad morals / ethics:
- The government, police and justice system will be corrupt – regardless of how “good” the written laws may be.
- People will look the other way or be to scared to stick their neck out when they see injustice.
- Businesses will take advantage of consumers, employees and other businesses.
- Crime, filth and oppression will be rife.
In a country with averagely good morals / ethics:
- The citizens will band together and ensure that justice is done, regardless of written / imposed laws.
- People will make it their own personal responsibility to make sure that something is done about it when they see something which is wrong.
- Businesses will seek to help each other rather than do each other in, and thus create a stronger and wealthier economy.
- People will involve themselves in charitable work, thus combatting any adverse circumstances which those amongst them may encounter.
The “secret of success” of any nation, country, city, area, group of people, or even person, should thus clearly be (or at the least start with and be founded upon) a good moral / ethical culture.