Progress is as interesting a phenomenon as any other: it heavily depends on one’s personal perceptions. Business people, for instance, consider progress the acceleration of profits for their company; and perhaps the successful introduction of new products in current and different markets.

Members of all walks of society link progress to advancement in pre-formulated life standards: possessing bigger, newer, and more expensive cars; purchasing larger houses; moving to more upscale neighborhoods; and dressing in sophisticated name brands.

Dictionaries offer explanations for progress, varying from, “Movement, as toward a goal” and “Advancement”, to “Development or growth”, and “Steady improvement, as of a society or civilization: a believer in human progress”.
It is this last definition that elicits another quandary for the analytical
mind: What should be considered human progress? Is it the accruement of control over other species, land, material-, intellectual-, and emotional possessions? Is it the advancement of civilization as we currently experience it? Is it globalization? Is it the expansion of influence of some countries and their rules and regulations over entire continents? Or could it be something else?

It is rather disheartening to witness the degeneration that humanity seems to generally perceive as progress these days: Most of us are, after all, captured in the strife toward promotions at work; higher salaries; more prestige; and increased security. And few of us linger by the insight that all of the above is actually quite fickle; not to mention, very unsatisfying in retrospect.

The rat race has more members of our global society in its depressing, deteriorating grip than anyone would like to admit. The rules of “the game”
have become so important to those of us who feverishly hold on to the deceiving security of a job, that our idea of progress has regressed into a poor image of positional and material status: facts that only remain for a while, and then perish into nothingness.

How could it be otherwise: the real definition of human progress entails something that our civilization radically defies: acceptance of our legitimate place as members of a community that consists of human beings, as well as species different from — yet, not inferior to — the human. And since our fear of losing control and our zealously gained position in our societies has us in its tight stranglehold, we console ourselves that we are free, while deep inside we know we are not; puppets that we are of a system that dictates how and what we should think, say, and do.

And we choose to continue the strife, because it is the way we have learned it all our lives, and we continue to ignore our internal call for justification and real improvement. And businesses continue to globalize and influence other cultures, trying to establish one global culture, because that will guarantee ultimate control by the larger players, and who does not want to be in ultimate control?

So, now that this little write up may have thoroughly confused or aggravated
you: are you willing to consider what progress really means for you?
Dr. Joan Marques

Burbank, CA – 1-14-06

About the author:

Joan Marques emigrated from Suriname, South America, to California, U.S., in 1998. She holds a doctorate in Organizational Leadership, a Master’s in Business Administration, and is currently a university instructor in Business and Management in Burbank, California. Look for her books “Empower the Leader in You” and “The Global Village” in bookstores online or on her


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