If we want to prevent future conflicts over scarce resources, we should begin now to ensure that everyone has what he or she needs—not necessarily everything they want, but what is needed. That’s not a new idea. It’s as old as sacred texts in every faith tradition of the world. Treat others the way we would want to be treated.
That’s all well and good, but one person’s need may be another’s extravagance. What is today’s “luxury” may be “essential” tomorrow—consider cell phones as a recent example. Fortunately, the definition of need is not merely subjective, subject to the whims of the speaker.
In 1943, a psychologist named Abraham Maslow published a paper describing a “Hierarchy of Needs.” It’s often referred to as Maslow’s Pyramid. He defines five distinct levels of need—each depending on the more basic ones below being supportive before a higher level can be accomplished.
His five levels from the most basic to the one on top are:
- Basic or Physiological Needs. These are the ones we need to survive as an organism: air, water, food, shelter from extreme heat or cold, and health.
- Safety Needs. Personal and emotional security. Freedom from fear of attack in or out of your home, at work or school.
- Belonging or Social Relationship Needs. This has to do with family and social network ties. Today people often speak of their “tribe.” Maslow’s assumed that everyone needs a place to be heard, accepted, or encouraged Belonging in part also speaks to the identity we present to the world.
- Ego Strength. Some refer to this level as Recognition. It often comes with a sense of accomplishment, status, even financial rewards. It means one has dealt with setbacks, shortcomings, or failures and still reached a point of being recognized for accomplishments.
- Self-Actualization. The point when one’s contributions and place in the whole scheme of things makes sense. It’s time for seeing a bigger picture and your place in it—for good or ill, with emphasis on creating a greater good. This is the realm of exploration by prophets, mystics, and sages.
The future I talk about in The Doorkeeper’s Secrets and other books in The Sheltered Cities Series is shaped by leaders who recognize human needs as the first line of discovery for a stable, compassionate, productive and adapting future. People who have their needs met, will not likely take a weapon to destroy others. Those who see a path of hope before them will not have to look for someone different to put down, or put in shackles.
Over the next several blogs we will try to address the issues of needs – today and in the future. I would welcome your thoughts on the subject.