The life of a community, country or society is like a journey, a very interesting journey indeed. It is like God or nature just dropped us in the middle of the development space together with plants and animals, other living things and non living things. This is not a geographical or physical space but an imaginary space. In this space, far away from us, there is the land of milk and honey and even Heaven in some directions but other directions are littered with crisis, strife, and even there is hell fire. The various locations are in different directions; some are North, South, West, North East etc. For example, Heaven may be in the North direction and Hell may be in the South West direction. Where you get to in life depends on the direction the society takes. If you take the South West direction, you are surely going to Hell on earth! If you take the North direction, you are surely going to land in Heaven.
Which society wouldn’t want to land in Heaven instead of landing in Hell? Good thing, as a society approaches its destination, it gets the feeling of the end point. As you approach Hell, you feel the fire from far off. As you approach Heaven or land of milk and honey, you feel the serenity, joy and comfort in your society. So, there is enough warning to humans to adjust their direction.
The direction or trajectory determines the conditions of societies and their final destination. This trajectory is the key issue in life. What is it all about? It is about the thinking, reasoning and the decisions societies make about all the many factors that affect development. It is about economic, political, social, scientific and many other choices. It is about how human capital and other resources are developed and utilized through education and training. It is about culture, behavior and mindset of human beings as groups in society. It is about law, rules and regulations and their enforcement, justice and equity in societies.
That is why, continuous thinking, reasoning, planning and actions to follow the right direction in life are extremely important. Our humanity is determined by the decisions we take on our direction. Some societies may be operating at a very high level of collective human intelligence and select and move in the right direction easily and fast. They have great institutions that work at top efficiency and fidelity to carry them to the desired direction. They insist on righteousness to carry them to Heaven on earth. Some societies at the other extreme may be behaving metaphorically like goats, eating grass (natural endowments or land) and every piece of yam (properties belonging to others) they meet without producing or creating any wealth. For this group, life is all about just living and fattening themselves for the final slaughter. The slaughter house is their final destination. Sin, corruption and indiscipline kill and are the fast lane to Hell on earth.
The trajectory also has other aspects such as speed, deceleration, acceleration, changes in directions and even meandering, all of which affect how fast or smoothly the destination is reached. Any society that takes its trajectory for granted in predicting its destination and adjusting and readjusting to move fast and straight to the final desirable destination will surely move to the land of suffering and strife. All societies must, therefore, use the awesome amount of knowledge available in this knowledge based world to take the right direction to the land of milk and honey or Heaven on earth. There is enough room for every society there but two things must come together to get there. The first is putting the body of knowledge for the direction together and the second is assiduously implementing the blueprint for the journey.
All of this must be done with the four Ds for maximum achievement: Desire, Drive, Dedication and Discipline. Of course, the right direction will always be resisted by some members of society because of vested interest but such elements must be reined in, in the interest of the overall good. The governance system in the society is key, not because of the name – monarchy, autocracy, military dictatorship, democracy etc – but because of the ability and effectiveness of getting society to move in the right direction at the right speed.
Prof. Ir P. B. Onaji is a professor of Chemical Engineering at Modibbo Adama University, Yola, Adamawa State.