Boeing Integrated Defense Systems strategist and scientist, Dr Alex Riazati, is a man with plenty to say.
When he explains his ideas he speaks like a man possessed as if to decipher an enigma. Maybe it is because his background is diversely rooted in many disciplines like science, philosophy, religion and psychology.
He explains the workings of his intellect, disclosing that his interest has been to place integration between the heart and the mind, science and religion, to create a holistic view of reality “because I believe that reality is a holistic concept and therefore it should be looked at as such”.
The well-travelled Riazati, from the United States of America, has been with the Boeing company as a strategist and scientist for the last 32 years.
“Also, I am a psychotherapist. I have my own foundation, which is called Human in the Making Foundation,” he explained in an interview last week.
He said this foundation is for empowering, enabling, motivating the individual, family and the different segments of the society to provide an environment that everyone can have an opportunity for self-actualisation and making their mark in the universe.
He was in Gaborone at the invitation of education organisation, New Era, Rainbow, and also in collaboration with the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’i of Botswana.
He discussed topics such as the holistic views on education, the psychological and cognitive stages of individual and social development.
Is morality rooted in religion and what of the roles of lawyers, psychologists and religious leaders in promoting universal laws that safeguard the wellbeing of entire human race, amongst many others? On holistic views, he said for holistic education, it means that education is not only on one aspect of reality.
“By holistic education it means education of the mind, education of the heart, also education of the body because when you talk about humans there is the biological aspect, there is physical aspect, there is cognitive aspect and there is a spiritual aspect. So when you talk about education, education has to address these three aspects of human reality,” he said.
He added that the holistic education cannot happen in a vacuum.
“Your political situation, your cultural situation, your economical situation all of these processes will impact a student. Therefore, education is a factory where we coordinate, synchronise, all these processes and our aim is not to create robots.
Our aim is to create individuals who are balanced, who are whole, who are creative and who can initiate activities that generate hope for the future.” Addressing the psychological and cognitive stages of individual and social development he said: “When you speak of humanity, you are talking about his mind, his heart, and therefore through education there has to be a balance between cognition and emotion”.
Riazati and his foundation believe that “we as humankind are like one body, each one of us is a different member of that body. Therefore, the education has to be holistic.”.
He explained that religion and science are the vehicles to make for spirituality.
“Spirituality simply means to be the service to the world of humanity. If you are spiritual there is no such a thing as Arab, as Iranian, as African, you are all human. There is no black and white. We are all human. When you read this concept closely, reality of mind is what we call the purpose of cognitive education.”
He answered to whether morality is rooted in religion saying that a true religion is a moral religion. And a moral religion is a religion that believes in a continuity and relativity, in a progress.
“We believe in our foundation that religions actually go through stages. Like a human you have infancy, you have a pre-youth, you have youth, you have adulthood. These religions are also acting like that. A religion of a thousands years ago was very good, was very moral but then… in the 21st century the same religion can divide people.
Religion has to be an instrument to make us more human. Human should not be a slave to the religion…morality and religion believe in one thing; character education.”