Community Economic Development (CED) Master's Program
Southern New Hampshire University
CED GRADUATION REMARKS BY CHARLES BETTERTON 1992
Good evening. It is my privilege to continue the CED Program tradition of having the opening remarks given by the class member voted least likely to offer remarks, comments and opinions.
During our first class weekend, I introduced myself as a community development specialist for the Kingdom of God on earth and right-use-ness. The response to my statement was understandably as diverse as the make-up of our class. Comments ranged from statements of appreciation from people with a similar orientation to someone asking me if there was a place in my world for atheists and Michael Swack asking if I was a member of some cult.
During later classes with Chuck Turner, we spent time discussing the root causes of the problems that threaten our society. We developed the following list:
- The Me Generation
- Getting away from God
- Lack of spirituality
- Lack of common vision
- Absence of wisdom
- Focus on accumulation versus circulation
- Spiritual and cultural disintegration and the
- Lack of an appropriate value system and ways to express it
The following month we considered potential solutions to these problems by reflecting on the values of community economic development which we described as including:
- Spiritual underpinning, a sense of oneness
- Application of cooperative principles
- A focus on human development
- Retention of wealth in the neighborhoods
- Valuing community and the larger society
- Consideration of multicultural differences in religion, values perspectives and communication and
- Enabling people and communities to empower themselves
We defined the role of CED as an educational process to help people become empowered and connected with others, thereby becoming the curative process. I am not the same person who entered this program in September of 1990 and neither are any of you. Through the information, exercises and experiences we have shared, we have all completed another upward spiral in our lives and careers. We have acquired skills and techniques and access to resources that can transform our lives, our organizations, our communities and our world.
Over the past 16 months we have become a family and a community. And just like our biological families and our geographic communities, we have varying levels of connectedness with each other member of the group. Even so, I believe we have far more in common than we may have of difference.
When I say I am a community development specialist for the Kingdom of God on earth and right-use-ness, I am sharing my goal of being a positive factor in assisting with the evolution of the world from what and how it now is, into what and how I believe it can be through the application of CED principles.
Just as Abraham Maslow developed a hierarchy of needs and described a fully actualized person, I see a vision of a fully actualizing civilization. I see a world where the widespread practice of community economic development principles fosters the realization of personal, organizational and spiritual potential. I see a world where individuals balance their inclination toward personal objectives and material acquisitions with a broader sense of community, purpose, an attitude of service and stewardship and the practice of cooperative principles.
In an article we read by Mel King and Samantha George entitled "The Future of Community; From Global to Local", the following statements were presented:
"Community development on the material level is necessary, but not sufficient without a complementary development of human consciousness along the spiritual dialectic .... The point here for community developers is to create structures that stimulate the development of consciousness so that, in transforming their physical communities, people grow into spiritual community.
Community development must embody the process of uncovering our essence as human beings and as co-creators, in order to build a new earthly order reflecting the divine principle of oneness"
I suggest that we are all community development specialists for the Kingdom of God on earth and right-use-ness. Or if you prefer the term, for Heaven on Earth. " We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience."
I deeply appreciate the opportunity to travel this path with you. I look forward to spending the rest of my life sharing with the world what we have learned through our participation in the CED program. I also appreciate this opportunity to share these thoughts with you this evening. In closing, and in keeping with the ecumenical nature of this "non-invocation", May the Force be with you. Thank you.