The Development of the Individual

There are two key aspects of a person's life: The world as it is and the person's relationship with it. The world represents things that are beyond our control, things outside of ourselves while our relationship represents what our reactions are to these things or surroundings. Looking from a vantage point concerned with growth and the fulfilling of a person's potential, both of these aspects can be used to achieve these goals.

A person has a greater chance of growing in an environment that allows this growth to occur, whatever that environment may be. A person growing up always hunting for food for the next meal will have a difficult time moving beyond this life. When basic needs are not met, we don't have time to worry about fulfilling our potential. An environment that supplies for the basic needs of a person supplies a strong foundation on which that person can build themselves.

The psychologist Maslow created the hierarchy of needs in order to reach the pinnacle of what he referred to as the "self-actualized person." Without the step below it firmly founded, a person could never fulfill their potential.

Looking at this hierarchy, we can determine that the greatest environment would be one that supplied for all the needs. In theory, if we supply for all these needs there should be an abundance of growth within the person or people, but this isn't always the case. Why is that?

The other factor in play in this situation is the person's relationship to their environment. It doesn't matter what type of genetics a person has, where they grow up, or what connections they have. If they lack the attitude or perception necessary to achieve their potential, they won't. There have been many people who have thrown all the money and status that they are given away on unfruitful endeavors and on the opposite end of the spectrum, there are many people that rise from poverty and create a better environment for themselves and their family.

A person's relationship to the world is also seen in such things as religion. The same religions are often used as tools of peace and growth by some, and by others as vehicles for hate and destruction. Personal interpretation plays a big part in the differences of people's beliefs.

So while our environment is important, the person's relationship with it also plays a large part. In some cases, a subpar environment will actually strengthen the person's resolve and they will be better off. When they achieve a greater situation for themselves, the understanding they have accumulated allows them to be humble with what they have achieved and know its importance.

The ancient Greeks thought of ethics in a different way than is intuitive today. While today ethics is mainly focused on good or bad actions, the Greeks were accustomed to the develop of values within the individual, or virtue ethics. They were concerned with what virtues made a person good. A person who has reinforced the correct values within themselves will be able to do good no matter their environment or situation.

In summary, both aspects must be nurtured in order for us to grow abundantly. Within our control, though, is our relationship with the world. We may not have complete control over our situation, but if we work on instilling and reinforcing the correct values, our environment will hold little when compared to the vastness of our spirit.

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