Median Quality of Life
The Median Quality of Life is something of a comprehensive overview of the rest of the factors listed herein. In its own way, it is a measure of success for the sociological development and a prime indicator of sociological sustainability. When sociological sustainability is implemented properly within a systemically sustainable development, the overall median quality of life will rise for virtually all of the people within the community or development. Granted, there will always be some exceptions, including a limited number of people who are more content with less and not having to work for a living, though given the proper incentives, this should remain a very small minority of the population.
The median quality of life is perhaps best measured by the readily available access to the basic necessities of life. There are four keys to improve the median quality of life that are sadly lacking in modern society. These are viable education rather than merely teaching to the test, and including options for vocational and technical training for those people who are less capable of learning in a more scholastic environment; real-world, paying opportunities for those who have received an education; accomplishing this without the creation of a dependency class; and perhaps most important of all, the ability to provide all of this without overly burdening those who are already productive and contributing members within a society or community development.
Basic and Secure Housing
Basic and secure housing is a must. Anyone who has ever tried to get dressed in their car knows how inconvenient such a feat can be, and trying to do well in school or at work while homeless is challenging even for the most rugged individuals. What must change here however, is the isolation of sections of the community based on their need to receive community assistance. These isolated communities can prevent even the most qualified of candidates from being considered for a job merely because of having an address on “that side of town” or on “the wrong side of the tracks."
Furthermore, these social assistance housing units, are generally in impoverished areas, often crime-ridden by nature if not by design. Children growing up in these environments are discouraged from doing well, and generally have few role models who are not criminal in nature. The social stigmatization associated with such isolated locations can not be ignored and every measure must be put into place to avoid that. This housing should be well integrated into “normal” or “functional” society so as to avoid any of the related stigmatization normally associated with being a recipient of social assistance programs.
Food is imperative because everyone needs it to survive, though it can also be a benefit in this case, most notably on contained Community Developments where the vast majority of the foods consumed are grown within the community itself. As such, not only will the food feed those in need of assistance, but also provide immediate, gainful employment at the same time. Again, there will be responsibilities for the people receiving assistance, and a limited number of demands as well, but in return, they will begin becoming more productive and contributing members within their community, with none of the stigmatization formerly associated with being impoverished … and again, at the same time, begin to learn how beneficial society can be to the individual when social (and societal) interaction is more readily accessible for the average person.
Education and Education Reform
Education is an absolute necessity not only in the fight against poverty and for the establishment of systemically sustainable human growth and development, but this will also require the introduction of education reform. The current system of “teaching to the test” has failed not only the students, but failed society as a whole. It is imperative to remember that each student, regardless of whether they may be an adult or a child, will have their own strengths and weaknesses, and education must be sufficiently adaptive to cater to the individual.
It is necessary to offer educational options based on aptitude … the key being options, in much the same way as military occupational specialties are opted out based on individual aptitude tests by recruits. When highly specialized aptitude batteries indicate individual strengths within certain areas, any number of options from within those areas should be offered to the student, providing them with a number of choices in areas where they will have a better opportunity for success. This should include numerous relevant options including scholastic, vocational and technical education in order to provide a more ideal learning environment for all students. As such, public expenditures or subsidization can be provided with a realistic expectation of viable returns for the community and the individual.
One additional benefit of the Incorporated Foundation structural model is the ability to utilize the corporate entities as an extension of the educational institutions in regards to both training and opportunity. It is important to note that all students will have different strengths and weaknesses. Where some may be perfectly capable of learning in a scholastic environment, they may tend to learn better in more technical or vocational areas. For these students, the corporate interests and for-profit businesses owned by the foundation, will provide paid, real-world training including apprenticeship programs for those students that would directly benefit from such a setting.
Basic (and Extended) Medical and Health Care and Treatment
Basic health care needs are an important part of Sociological and Social Sustainability as they allow for the individual to retain the ability to enjoy their lives in relative comfort. Healthy people also tend to be more productive as well, making accessible health care and treatment beneficial to both the individual and the community.
Individual and Familial Responsibility
It is equally important that a measure of responsibility be granted to the recipients of aid in order to motivate them to more fully integrate into … and subsequently to also directly benefit from society and societal interaction.
Numerous studies indicate the results of the social assistance programs currently in place are certainly less than ideal in planning, design or implementation. Among the most prevalent of these reports is the Moynihan Report which shows that the creation of a dependency class and the ultimate destruction of the nuclear family unit is a direct result of many of the “social assistance” programs currently in place. Individuals need to have some level of responsibility bestowed upon them in order that they can enjoy an honest feeling of accomplishment at having earned that assistance which they receive. This responsibility should also serve as a motivating factor for personal improvement and a desire to increase the quality of life for the individual and the familial unit. Furthermore, it should serve to assist in the correlation between the individual and society and the importance of societal interactivity.
As always, please leave any of your thoughts, comments, questions and suggestions in the comment section below so that they can be addressed individually, and perhaps even used for consideration in future articles. None of this work would be possible without you, the reader, and as such, your thoughts and considerations are the most important aspect of any articles published herein.
Ruth Tandaan Sto Domingo, Whole-System Sustainable Development Expert. Ruth has worked with numerous NGOs, governments and Indigenous communities in Guinea, Cameroon, Nigeria, Panama, Costa Rica, Brazil, Australia, the Philippines and Vanuatu to implement sustainable solutions. She is the co-author of Whole System Sustainable Development. Ruth enjoys “hyper-realistic” cross stitch and is working with her husband to build a largely off-grid and self-sufficient home where she will raise livestock and garden both flowers and food. Connect with Ruth on Facebook.
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