Public and private organizations in many lands face an urgent current problem: What is to be done about underdeveloped countries the world over? The question is being asked by leaders of the countries themselves. It is being asked by the highly industrialized nations who, in the Atlantic Charter, stated their desire to encourage the spread of industrial development. Where underdeveloped areas are emerging from colonial dependence, they have the double task of establishing their statehood and of securing for their people a higher level of living.
These problems are not unrelated. Nor are they posed in a national vacuum, the sole concern of each country chiefly involved. On the contrary, what happens in areas now underdeveloped is a matter of lively interest to nations already industrialized. They want to help. If their purposes are malevolent, their "helping" will be in terms of their own benefit without regard to injuries done the victim. But even where motives are benevolent, haste and lack of sensitivity may cause irreparable damage. It is imperative that the problems of underdeveloped countries be clearly understood before overt moves are made to assist them.
This is no simple task. "Underdeveloped" may describe the information available about a country as well as its industrial status. There may be few reliable facts to go on. Data, readily accessible in more highly developed countries, may be wholly lacking, or, while apparently available, highly inaccurate.
How, then, can a sound approach be made to this problem? If the people in countries with low levels of living are not to be let alone-- either by their leaders or by the outside world--what is an intelligent method of procedure? Two basic truths must undergird the answer. The first is that every culture has its own values--values not to be arbitrarily smothered by the imposition of an alien culture no matter how superior the latter may seem to its proponents. The second is that the life of a people is a rounded entity, its parts so interrelated that abrupt change at one point may have destructive repercussions at many others. And this applies not only to the economic, the political, the social life of a country but also to its spiritual well-being.
With these basic beliefs then in mind, The Rockefeller Foundation undertook a survey of the Island of Crete. This study, begun in 1948, was made at the invitation of the Greek Government to the International Health Division of The Rockefeller Foundation . . .