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Development vis-vis- the Lord’s Prayer


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I have learned from the study of Social Work the three development objectives, namely: (1) increase the availability and widen the distribution  of basic life sustaining goods such as food, shelter, health, and protection; (2) raise  levels of living including, in addition to higher incomes, the provision of  more jobs, better education,  and greater attention to cultural and humanistic values, all of which will serve, not only to enhance material well-being but also to generate greater individual and national self-esteem; (3) expand the range of economic  and social choice to individuals and nations by freeing them from  servitude and dependence, not only in  relation to other people and nation-states but also to the forces of ignorance and human misery.

The  three core values of development by Michael Todaro have enriched my understanding of development. Foremost, is  Life Sustenance. It is the ability to provide basic necessities. A basic function of all economic activity, therefore,  is to provide as many people as possible with the means of overcoming the helplessness and misery arising from lack of food,  shelter, health, and protection.

Self Esteem is next, which connotes being a person with a sense of self-worth and self-respect, of not being used by others for their own needs.  All people and societies seek some basic form of self-esteem. Call it by other name, authenticity, identity, dignity, respect, honor or  recognition, the essence is still the same. Its nature and form  may vary from society, and from one culture to another.

The last is Freedom from Servitude. It means the ability to choose.  This refers to the fundamental sense of freedom or emancipation from alienating conditions  of life. It covers  freedom from the societal servitude of men to nature, ignorance, other men, misery, institutions, and dogmatic beliefs.  Freedom also involves the expanded  range of choices and their members together with the  minimization of external constraint in the pursuit of some of social goals, which we  call ‘development’.

I have always associated these  core values with the  Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:7-13, as referred to traditionally. Although, in the biblical  context, the real Lord’s Prayer is found in John 17.  What was recorded in the gospel of Matthew is a standard prayer. A model prayer, which if analyzed in the context of our discussion, a prayer for development.

There are two parts of this prayer which  summarize  the commandments and reflective of the model of relationship. The First Part pertains to our Relationship with God:

Our Father, who art   in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

The second part is model of relationship  with humanity which comprises the  three core values of development.

Give us this day our daily bread connotes the first core value, i.e. life sustenance.

Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Whether it is a literal debt or sin as some suggest, the implication here is self-esteem. Because a person who commits sin or is burdened by debts, loses some kind of self-esteem.

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil is akin to  freedom from servitude.


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