Friday, August 29, 2008
The Littlest Indicator
I was answering a question for a friend last night on identifiable progress in Iraq, and I began thinking about the definition of "progress". In graduate school thirteen years ago the political science buzzword for progress was "development", and of course that meant various things to various people depending on what their viewpoint was. Some, including myself, approached development from an economic standpoint, others looked at social or political conditions, still more were concerned with infrastructure. All of these are good indicators to consider when determining the development or progress that is taking place in Iraq.
While there is not a catch-all indicator of development, there is one that is pretty close, the condition of a nation's children. My theory is that in every society it's citizens love their children, they provide for them, sacrifice for them, and therefor the kids become a great indicator of how well or not well the family is doing. Whenever I go to a new place I take note of the state of the children I see on the streets; are they clean, well-clothed, wearing shoes, going to school, too thin or too fat, open sores or lesions, are they smiling, condition of their teeth? All of this gives me a general impression that I believe lends insight to the country's over-all level of development. I know that it's a very general indicator, but so far it's worked for me.
Finally there is what the Brits refer to as a "knock-on affect" from happy, healthy children, because they grow up into happy, healthy adults and in turn raise thoughtful, educated children of their own.