Integral Human Development

Integral Human Development: Definition and Meaning

Integral Human Development is a concept that is not new to humanity, but has really begun to work in depth in recent decades. It consists of the potential, optimal and healthy growth of people addressing the different areas of their lives. In this article we will delve into the theoretical development, in some differences that exist according to the authors, important aspects to take into account and much more.

What is Integral Human Development?

When we hear these words, the first one we focus on is “Development” which relates to a “process” that leads to growth, improvements, increase, well-being, etc. But linked to the growth of the human being from the different aspects that make it up: in the social, physical, emotional, spiritual, cognitive, moral, etc. This is a simple and crude way of giving a definition about it. But in reality, this construct is much more complex and its definition varies a bit depending on the author you work with and the approach you have.

Another definition of the term is that integral human development is a process that seeks to improve the different aspects of a society, in such a way that the conditions and quality of life improve, granting the possibility of increasing the goods and services that can arrive. to reach each individual, to be able to cover and satisfy all their basic and supplementary needs. Thus guaranteeing all his human rights. It can also be explained as the number of options that a human being has in his environment, to be able to do what he wants and be useful in some way to his society.

As we can see in the definitions mentioned so far, they all have elements in common with each other, although the approach given to the first definition is more oriented towards the individual and then moves us to the macro, to its relationship with society. While the remaining definitions address comprehensive human development from the macro, starting from society and ending with the individual. This plurality of definitions and approaches does not mean that there are some that are wrong or that they are better or worse than others, they are simply different epistemological ways of approaching the phenomenon.

A simple way to work with the different elements that define integral human development is to separate the individual dimension from the social one. Understanding that the human being needs to develop in different aspects as an individual: physiological, motor, cognitive, emotional development, etc. In turn, it has areas of the social sphere that it must develop: interpersonal relationships, being useful to society, its ethical and moral development, etc. Both dimensions do not occur in isolation or independently, on the contrary; they are often so closely linked that poor or incomplete development directly affects other aspects of the individual.

There are many examples that can explain the above: a child who has had problems relating to his peers since childhood may develop some type of affective disorder that will affect his cognitive and emotional area, causing self-esteem problems, depression, anxiety, etc. In turn, these problems can trigger sleep and eating disorders, physically affecting the young person. So on until each area looks damaged.

Another example that addresses comprehensive human development from another perspective occurs when a child grows up in an environment where their basic needs are not covered or satisfied. That they live in a house where there are water problems, their family’s economic situation is precarious and they have many food restrictions, there is not enough work for their parents, they cannot have a quality education, etc. All these socioeconomic conditions interfere directly with the development of the child since having a poor diet can present medical complications during their development, not having a quality education makes it difficult to get a job that allows them to have a good quality of life or even ; he may be socially excluded by being seen as an outcast, increasing the possibility that he will engage in criminal behavior.

Among the external aspects of human development, the classical authors give much weight to the effect of the economy, leaving aside or assigning less relevance to other equally important dimensions such as culture, social interaction, among others; They also take an important role in the growth of the individual.

In any case, we cannot talk about human development without touching on the definition suggested by the “United Nations Development Program (UNDP)” which is one of the most relevant entities worldwide on the subject, which gives the following definition: human development is understood as the process of growth and expansion of people’s capabilities that allow them to have a greater number of options and opportunities in their lives. It should be noted that, unlike the aforementioned definitions, emphasis is placed here on the relationship between development and progress or the well-being of the human being. This gives us a suggestion of what are the indicators used by this entity to determine whether or not a human being reaches its development.

On the other hand, the UNDP in its definition, equally links (just as other authors do) social development, economic development (regardless of whether it is local or rural development) and sustainable development. But always having the person as the center of development. Also; From this world institution, the potential development of each individual is taken as a primary objective, seeking to improve their chances of success in life, so that they can enjoy the freedom described in human rights.

To find out if the objectives are being achieved, each year the United Nations Development Program issues a report with multiple indicators related to different aspects, edges or dimensions of the concept. It is known as the UNDP Annual World Human Development Report. All the information provided in this report can be categorized into two large groups, one on the human development index and the other on multidimensional poverty indices. This last index contains different indicators that are directly related to poverty in the world, at a macro (global) level and a micro level (by countries).

Comprehensive Solidarity Human Development (DHIS)

As already mentioned, there is no single way to look at, define or approach the issue of human development. There are many positions that in principle speak of the same thing but with certain discrepancies. This is what happens with Comprehensive Solidarity Human Development, which focuses on the relationship between development and the human being in all his fullness. So far there is nothing new, it is exactly the same as the postures that we have already mentioned. But the fundamental difference lies in the way in which the individual and his potential are looked at, where the focus of attention is the positive aspects that he possesses and that can be improved.

If we had to make a comparison with the psychological currents, we would say that this position introduces the way of thinking of humanism or positive psychology where we always focus on the positive of the subject and not on the negative as the rest of the currents do. For better understanding with an example: when you go to a psychologist because you have a problem, they generally seek to understand what the root or cause of it is, trying to attack the problem and its symptoms. But if the professional who treats you comes from a humanist school, his focus will not be on the negative, nor on the problems you have. Rather, he will talk to you at all times about the positive characteristics you have and how their development will help you reduce the problem you present.

The same happens with this model that focuses on people, taking as its central idea that “we are all wonderful beings”. Although it does not deny our complexity, it indicates that we all (without any distinction) must be able to live fully. For those authors who are followers of this current, building a better world where everyone can be happy implies the ability of all human beings to love and be loved.

Another vitally important aspect of DHIS is that it focuses on the individual rather than society. That is, it goes from the micro to the macro. This becomes clear when they answer the question Who am I? shaping each person with the following dimensions:

  • A physical-biological entity.
  • A being of feeling and emotions.
  • People with intelligence and reason.
  • Social beings with the need to relate to others.
  • spiritual dimension.

Although beware, the human being is not a deconstruction in each of these parts, rather; the product of the union of all of them integrated by the spiritual dimension which is usually responsible for giving meaning to our lives and allows us to be in harmony and reach our maximum potential described above as fullness. Another reason why we should not seek to understand the human being through each dimension separately is that it prevents us from falling into the fragmentation of the subject, which is a fairly common task for most people. This causes us to judge and categorize people for isolated actions at certain times. Preventing us from really knowing that individual.

Other aspects that must be taken into consideration to have a holistic view of the human being are:

  • Everyone goes through a unique process of discovery, before the question of Who am I?
  • There is a historical component in the life of each one of us that cannot be ignored, since it helps to define us as people.
  • We all have a spiritual dimension that defines us.

Lastly, in order to have a general vision of a person’s comprehensive human development in solidarity, it is necessary to understand how their personal growth has been, the impact that society and culture have had on their lives, and what their spiritual experience is like.

Difficult Aspects of DHIS

There are many factors, variables and situations related to society that limit and prevent people from living fully as God expects and wishes for all of us. The first step is to identify these situations and then be able to overcome them. For this, it is necessary to know what they are:

  • Hardening : It occurs when people have mental rigidity, which prevents them from being able to see other postures different from their own and position themselves in the place of others (empathy).
  • Stagnation : Occurs when people belong to a specific social group and cease to be active beings who contribute to the group. On the contrary, they begin to act passively, being dragged along by the group and falling into sterile routines, where creativity, passion, etc. are gradually lost.
  • Eagerness for Power : When our motivations have the main purpose of gaining importance, money or status within a group, leaving aside ethical and human aspects. What leads us to be cold and indifferent to the situation of the other, coming to perform behaviors that can be harmful to others without having remorse for having caused harm to other people.
  • Desensitization : It goes hand in hand with the previous points, since it consists of the inability to realize the suffering of other people and of aversive and harmful situations or behaviors. In other words, we run the risk of not being able to recognize situations of poverty, human rights injustice, etc.
  • They are Vaccinated : When the subject becomes skeptical and stops believing in goodness and loses hope that a better world can be built.
  • They Break : It occurs when people completely lose hope and faith, both in themselves and in others, in society and even in God. They end up falling apart spiritually and psychologically.
  • They go to another stool : When a subject who is following the correct path decides to leave it aside to follow an opposite path. So instead of bringing you closer, he distances you from reaching that fullness and potential. For example, when young people drop out of school and start to commit crimes.

Strategies to promote DHIS

Next, we leave you with some suggestions focused on the process of conscious reflection in conjunction with our capacity to love; that will allow us to change the wrong path that we are traveling and strengthen and renew our spirit of service:

  • Increase Self-esteem : It is one of the most difficult aspects to deal with, since the decision to change falls on us. Despite the fact that organizations have the responsibility to promote an adequate interaction that is based on respect and values ​​each member of the group.
  • Learning to live through love : Many believe that it is an ideal concept, that it is an illusion or simply a “pretty” way of seeing things. But this is more than a concept, an ideal, it is a lifestyle. It is waking up and doing everything we do with dedication and love, seeking well-being not only for ourselves; but also for the rest. It is transforming all darkness into light and treating others with respect and genuine love.
  • Expand Our Concept of the Human Being : The problem is often due to our limited conception of the human being, believing that people can only be good in a specific way, that there is only one path to success, that problems are solved following specific guidelines. In short, fall into the maximum expression of mental rigidity. This leads us to disqualify the other, to be unable to understand their actions and the background behind the actions that someone performs (understanding their history, their family, her problems).
  • Giving More Weight to Faith : Faith moves mountains, gives us hope when we run out of options, and allows us to continue fighting when everyone else gives up. Remember that you can always support yourself in the church and in your community; who are there to support you and guide you on the right path.
  • Enrich Our Image of God : It is not enough just to go to church, you must be able to give yourself entirely to Jesus so that he can show you the path of life and love. This implies deepening your relationship with Jesus and identifying yourself with him in all your actions, desires, thoughts, etc.
  • Read the Biblical Texts : The sacred scriptures are the record we have of the word of God. Therefore, there we can find the way to salvation.
  • Being Able to Discern : This implies being alert when we are facing the signs of the times, in this way being able to act quickly and effectively. Remember that being a Christian implies being an active agent, with decision-making capacity, creativity, full of courage to face the adversities of life, etc.
  • Always be a Multiplier Agent : Perhaps this is already implicit in other points mentioned above, but it is not enough just to improve our lives. We must work to help others and improve the environment around us. Support with our grain of sand to improve the quality of life of others in all aspects of their lives: physically, soul, psychologically, socially and spiritually. Jesus left us as a mission to be pastors of his teachings through action.

Pastoral Theological Aspects

As we mentioned before, many of the teachings to achieve an integral solidarity development are found in the sacred scriptures. Some related snippets are:

  • In the Gospel according to Saint John (10:10) we read: «I have come so that they may have life, and have it abundantly».

Living and sharing with others goes far beyond simply being close to them, it implies being generous with everyone, understanding the qualities and virtues that each individual has to offer. Accepting that we are all particular and unique. In fact; These differences are the key to the development of our society, since everyone has a different contribution to make. For this reason, treat someone who is different not as an outcast, but as a human being who has something different to offer than what you have.

These differences can be presented in many ways, from language and physical appearance, to their way of reasoning and even in their religious beliefs. Still, we are all works created by God in his image and likeness to reflect some aspect of his glory.

For those who are devout Christians, it cannot be forgotten that Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross for us by shedding his most holy blood. This makes each person on earth sacred and therefore he deserves to be treated with respect and care. With this we do not mean that we should live helping everyone or giving our lives as the Lord Jesus did, but helping even one person from the heart is more than enough to justify giving your life. Fullness can be achieved for those who are capable of breaking down the borders that separate us from others and fill their hearts with their faces.

  • Fragment taken from the Gospel according to Saint John (8:32): «Love is an extraordinary force capable of moving people to commit themselves with courage and generosity in the field of justice and peace. It is a force that has its origin in God, which is the maximum expression of eternal love and absolute truth. Each one finds his own good by assuming the project that God has for him, in order to fully realize it: in fact, he finds in this project the truth of himself, and by accepting this truth, he is able to achieve freedom ».

Here we can see how the key to development revolves around love. To love for all things, love for ourselves, love for others. Love is the greatest gift that our Lord Jesus Christ and his father left us. Being quite explicit in indicating that only through love can we find the salvation of our souls. And it is the way by which we can help our peers. Each and every one of us are servants of God and as such, we must fulfill his mandate with passion and dedication. This is especially important when interacting with those who are far from God’s path and who, therefore, are the most in need of the word.

Dimensions of the DHIS

We have already mentioned the categories into which this model is divided, but now we proceed to explain in detail each of its dimensions, and how they are related to reaching the fullness of the person.

Anthropological Dimension

When speaking of anthropology, it refers to the vision that you have of man, as the human being is defined. In this case and using the words of Father Benedict XVI: Being a Christian is not a matter of an ethical decision, nor does it arise through an idea; rather it occurs when the event occurs where we meet someone who gives us a new perspective on life. It is thanks to this encounter where we can appreciate the love of God and how we are rescued from an isolated and self-referenced consciousness.

This dimension implies everything that defines us as men, taking into account the different aspects that determine us as such and that differentiate us from the rest of the animals. Faith in Christ being the most relevant aspect. Although we can also highlight free will, our ability to love, be compassionate, etc. In turn, within this dimension, the impact that history and societies have had on us, and on our vision of the future, must be taken into account.

Cultural Dimension

Culture is one of the main characteristics that we have as human beings, that capacity that we have to carry out rites, festivities and ceremonies and then pass them on to our offspring, so that over the years they become customs. The bible is our main cultural heritage, since from there we are able not only to understand the origin of our traditions, but also our history, as is our origin. Learn about the life and work of Jesus and his impact on the world.

Another interesting aspect of culture is that it crosses distances and borders, many historians have realized that despite the fact that many peoples have developed and grown in different parts of the world they have shared elements in common. Without going too far, the need to believe in God. In all the civilizations of the world, religion is one of the first elements that have been formed, regardless of whether it is foreign to Christianity, all peoples have a need to find the answers to the unknown, to those universal questions: Where do we come from? ? How do we create ourselves? What is our purpose in life? What is there after death?

For Christians specifically, we have cultural elements that link us regardless of the place or time where we find ourselves. To begin with, we have all received the baptismal sacrament that unites us as brothers, in addition to the fact that we have all been impregnated by the grace of the Holy Spirit. This makes us all seeds of the verb with particular customs and teachings that are instilled in us through the church.

Faith in Christ makes us an evangelized culture, which; It allows us to break down barriers and gives us many more resources than those populations of believers facing the attacks of current secularism.

This dimension focuses on the importance of people’s identity and their interculturality. Starting from the native customs and practices of each population. Understanding that each custom, historical facts, religiosity, rites and any other cultural expression must be aimed at promoting that the members of said population reach their human potential. This implies respect for other cultures and having enough openness to learn from the differences we may have with other cultures. As long as these guidelines are met, we will be closer to achieving comprehensive human development in solidarity.

Social Dimension

We are social beings who need to interact with other people. We need to be in « Inter-Relationship «. In fact, our need to share with others is so marked that social isolation for long periods of time is a cause of stress and can lead to physical and mental illness. It is one of the characteristics that defines us as human beings and one of our main sources of information and learning.

But we are not only satisfied with interacting with others, also to a greater or lesser extent (depending on each person), we need to be recognized at a social level, that the group of faith of our existence. That we can feel that we are important to others. We satisfy this feeling when we are able to work for the group, when we live worrying about others, about our neighbor. When we are able to put aside selfishness and think about what is beneficial for the group before our own well-being.

This is how it is written in God’s project, where being successful in the social dimension implies committing oneself and following his teachings. That are aimed at helping others prosper. Because if we are able to help others, at the same time we will be helping ourselves. Another way of looking at it is being able to relieve ourselves of others. But achieving this goal implies being able to respect the fundamental rights of each individual. Your right to life, not to be judged and belittled because of your ethnicity, social status, economic situation, etc. In addition, it implies working to provide spaces for coexistence where community life can be developed effectively.

From the perspective of a Christian, we must understand that God sent his son to live among us with a body of human flesh so that we understand that each person is considered in the heart of God. At the same time; his son Jesus does not redeem the individual, but all the social relations that exist between men. Finally, we cannot forget that the Holy Spirit does not act in one person, but in everyone. This means that it also graces our interactions and social bonds.

Political Dimension

Depending on the author, this dimension can be grouped with the social and cultural ones, since they share some elements with each other. In any case, here we define it as the mechanism that allows democratically originating consensus in societies, to respond to the needs and problems that afflict the citizens that comprise it without falling into inequality, and granting each subject the same number of opportunities and benefits.

This definition is extremely important because if you realize it, it goes against some political positions. It is not enough to have a position regarding the people who govern us and how they do it. It is necessary for there to be active participation and for your voice to be heard in order to achieve comprehensive human development in solidarity. Another way of understanding this definition involves looking at it as a transcendental human aspiration, where the common good is sought.

Politics is a means created by human beings to make it easier and more feasible to solve community problems and increase the quality of life. For this it is necessary that there is an organization, structure and that few people (elected democratically) hold power to facilitate decision-making. Although a key term comes into play: power. That assigned to the wrong people can cause a lot of damage to the collective good, mainly; when the person who possesses is governed by selfish, immoral and unethical motivations.

It is here where faith in Christ helps us to be pure before the presence of power and prevents our hearts from rusting, allowing our vocation to service to flourish and we are builders of just societies, where each person is dignified and their fundamental rights are respected. .

Economic Dimension

This is one of the easiest dimensions to understand, since it encompasses all the activities that people carry out to produce, sell and exchange resources. Which, allow to satisfy their basic needs and improve their quality of life. But this is only the individual or micro aspect of the economy, since it also has a macro component; that is related to the economy of a country, directly affecting the economic development of each subject within the population.

For this reason, aspects such as inflation, gross domestic product, among others; they affect the economy in a general way, in turn, conditioning the resources that people can acquire. The main objective of the economy is to promote the growth of people’s wealth and that they can have a progressive increase.

From the position of the church, it is acceptable for a person to make a fortune if he morally contributes to global development or in any case and on a smaller scale; encourage community development. Being a central aspect in people’s lives, it is important that the economic activities we carry out are based on profitability, cooperation, solidarity, sustainability and care for the environment.

At present, from the economic point of view, man is seen as a consumer good, where he thinks mainly about how much he can pay and how much he can produce. This leads us to a desensitization of the human quality, of the values ​​and the dignity of man. It is something that every Christian must be careful of, because when we begin to think like this, we begin to distance ourselves from the way of God. On the other hand, the economy is closely related to poverty, to the point that it is almost impossible to talk about one topic while leaving the other aside. Aspects that as Christians we can never forget, and must always be taken into account, since it is related to work for others.

Ecological Dimension

When we talk about ecology, the first thing that should come to mind is the environment, nature, flora, fauna, the planet’s lands, the seas, etc. Human beings do not live in nothing, we all inhabit the planet earth which we call home. But in addition, we totally depend on this house, since we take advantage of its resources for our survival and to improve our quality of life.

The problem lies in the fact that the resources that the planet has to offer are finite, and since the creation of man it has been in charge of consuming, extracting and exploiting resources indiscriminately. Without thinking that tomorrow our home will not be able to offer us more because we will have consumed everything. Part of integral human development in solidarity consists in being aware of this serious problem in order to act accordingly. Be more careful when spending water, avoid wasting resources, seek to recycle, promote sustainability projects, recovery and renewal of the planet.

This planet is the house that God gave us so that we can live in it and the least we can do is take care of it. It is not only a way to show respect to our father god, but it is also a way to lengthen and improve the life of the planet for our children, their children and so on.

On the other hand, the aspect of the environment that surrounds us also affects our way of thinking and our mood. Living in a dirty place, full of garbage and sewage generates unpleasant feelings in the people who live around it. Something that does not happen when we find ourselves in front of a landscape of nature in a virgin state, when we breathe pure and fresh air free of industrial and toxic gases.

Spiritual Dimension

This dimension is dynamic, which allows us to contact and bond with God despite the rest of the dimensions. All human beings, regardless of their religion or creed, have a spiritual component. In the case of Christians, prayer and the church become our tool and the way to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, achieve salvation and achieve eternal life.

It is a way of life, a way of seeing the world that allows us to recognize the good and distance ourselves from evil spirits. On the other hand we have the sacraments, which play an important role in the life of the Christian, being the means to connect with God and purify our souls from sin.

How to measure the development of a country?

This is vital for any country that wishes to have an estimate of the level of development that its people are experiencing. It is nothing new, since since ancient times governments have sought many ways to determine how much they have grown as a state, government or country. This has caused many different indices and indicators to be implemented over the years. Today the most used by most countries in the world are:

  • Index of Economic Welfare (IBE) : Which takes into account the savings rate of families and contrasts it with the accumulation of tangible capital (Example: a car, housing, etc.). This indicator gives an idea of ​​people’s feeling of security towards the future.
  • Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (IBES) : Prepared by Herman Daly and John Cobb in the year 1989.
  • Human Development Index (HDI) : Corresponds to the human development index that is issued by the United Nations each year.
  • Forham Social Health Index (IFSS) : This index consists of 16 indicators related to the social well-being of individuals in a specific population, which are: child poverty, suicide, mortality rate, abuse, housing and social inequality, unemployment, drug use, average earnings, health coverage, poverty in the elderly, homicides and school dropout.
  • Real Progress Index (IPR) : Also known as the Genuine Progress Index (IPG), it can be understood as an index homologous to the IBES, although it is made up of a greater number of variables and indicators.

Regarding development and poverty, the most used index is the HDI, but this does not mean that it is the only one. It is also common to find the following:

  • Gender Empowerment Index (IPG) : Developed from the year 1996 and which speaks of the differences in development with respect to gender. Widely used when talking about female empowerment, for example.
  • Material Deprivation Index : It is also known as the Material Deprivation Indicator. This index relates poverty indicators to material deprivation. Originally used in Great Britain in 2010, although in 2011 it was modified to be used in the United States.
  • Human Development Index Related to Gender (IDG) : Index similar to the IPG, created in 1996.

From an economic point of view, the most robust indicators used by countries to determine their growth in this area are GDP or Gross Domestic Product Per Capita and Income Per Capita. Both indicators are taken into account by most of the indices mentioned above, especially by the different poverty indices.

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