How We Choose to Belong Makes a Difference: Belonging (Part 1)

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Desiring to build a more compassionate and cooperative society is a noble goal. Getting there starts with respect. However, respect as an abstract concept may be as empty as cocoon after the butterfly has emerged.

Active respect acknowledges and defends another person’s needs and dignity. We started talking about needs several weeks back. Following Abraham Maslow organization of need into five groupings or levels. Maslow uses a pyramid to display the different levels, with the lowest layers being foundational for those placed on top.

In prior weeks we have lifted up the basic biological needs of food, clothing, shelter, air, water, and rest. We then turned to safety. Recognizing a desire for safety drives the compulsion of many to arm themselves—the results quite often are the opposite. An increased number of guns in our homes, cars, and on our persons makes everyone less safe. However, the motivation is understandable. I’ll have more thoughts about these issues in the weeks ahead.

But for now, we turn to the third of the five levels in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need—Belonging. To belong involves developing social relationships. I want to think about relationships in three different categories: Given, Tribal, and Chosen. Continue reading “How We Choose to Belong Makes a Difference: Belonging (Part 1)”

Building a Better World Starts with Safety

fullsizeoutput_25Crafting a better world starts with satisfying human needs—not necessarily everything we want—but what we truly need. Abraham Maslow stated that after meeting the basic biological needs of food, clothing, shelter, air, water, and rest, we must turn our attention to safety.

Whether it is the cave dweller avoiding being eaten, children avoiding abusive parents, or women avoiding sexual assault—safety first becomes the issue. So how do we protect ourselves? Continue reading “Building a Better World Starts with Safety”

What are our Basic Needs? (part 2)

fullsizeoutput_25So, what are our human needs and aspirations? If I can separate my true needs, from the multitude of things others ask me to believe are “needs,” then I can make decisions about how to spend my life. Abraham Maslow back in 1949 stated that we have five levels of need. The levels are like a pyramid each one must be at least partially satisfied before we can stack another on top.

The foundation is Basic Needs or Biological Needs. In addition to nutritious food, safe water, and breathable air, we humans have other less obvious physical requirements. Among them is protection from the elements.

Continue reading “What are our Basic Needs? (part 2)”

Remaking our World: Basic Needs (Part 1)

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If we decide to restructure our economy to provide everyone with what they need, before permitting anyone excesses, we will need a shared understanding of “Needs.” Fortunately, Abraham Maslow provides us with a starting place with his Hierarchy of Needs.

Five levels of need organized into a pyramid. The first being the foundational layer of the pyramid: Basic Needs. Red in the chart above.

These are the needs required to exist as a human organism on this planet. Air to breathe, water for drink and bathing, and food to eat. Those are obvious. However, we have found it necessary to pass laws to create standards for clean air, clean water, and safe food.  Continue reading “Remaking our World: Basic Needs (Part 1)”

Providing for Needs

IMG_20180420_115253148If 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. Continue reading “Providing for Needs”

New Year, New Beginnings, and Life Goals

Every religious tradition, at least the ones I know about, has a day, or season of reflection and renewal. Whether driven by religious principles or not it’s helpful for us to take stock of our behavior periodically. As self-directed individuals, we benefit from reflecting on our accomplishments toward our life goals. We may need to adjust our life goals or even add new ones. The New Year offers an opportunity to make that reflection.

The new year doesn’t actually begin anything. A few days earlier is the longest night of the year. The light starts to return a bit longer each day. New Year’s Day is not the beginning of a season. It’s basically an arbitrary date. It’s when we start counting taxes and insurance deductibles for another year. Nonetheless, it provides an opportunity to reflect and set goals for the next phase of our lives.

One of my goals for 2019 is to reenergize this blog. After a couple of months of unintended hiatus, it seems like a good time to reboot.

We were in the midst of a series reflecting on the nature of needs versus wants. If we are to build a more responsible, compassionate and egalitarian culture, which some of us think is the call for our generation, then we must find a way to address the unmet needs that keep derailing our efforts. To give a framework to the discussion, we turned to Abraham Maslow’s theory of a Hierarchy of Needs.

Over the next several days I will repost the previous articles until we are up to date. Of course, anyone wanting to read the others more quickly can always go to the earlier versions.

I welcome a new year and a chance at new starts. As always, I encourage thoughts, comments or observations on any of our subjects.

Equality

What if equality meant everyone gets what they need?

IMG_20171025_120811584_HDROne of the concepts undergirding the United States is “All people are created equal.” My grandfather used to add, “… but some are more equal than others.” His way of pointing out that equality does not mean sameness.

We do not have equal resources. There are differences in financial, intellectual, environmental, or safety resources. Those who are poor, women, minority, old, children, non-heterosexual, or a non-conformist in any way have additional burdens heaped on them—nothing equal or respectful about such practices.

When I was in college, we were told the equality is about being “equal before the law.” Anyone who still believes that hasn’t seen a newspaper, tv news, legal drama, or Facebook recently.

So, if we are to searching for some degree of equality—where would our search begin?

As I created a future version of our world based on increased respect and well-being, I consider an “equitable treatment of all” to be a stabilizing principle. Many of the arguments we observe come from a perception that someone else has an unfair advantage. The advantage often comes from a position of power—especially when abuse is possible. Anything from the landlord precipitously raising rents, or pharmaceutical manufactures quadrupling the price of an essential medication, to the bully on the playground picking on the more vulnerable ones.

So, how do we change to create a future where egalitarian principles are the norm?

First, we need to remember: we are all in this together. We have one planet to share. A volcanic eruption in Iceland can impact the air flights over much of the world. Weather changes in South America impact the coffee drinkers everywhere. And the resentment, or anger of one individual with a gun effects the lives of hundreds, thousands, even the whole world. At the same time, when a soccer team is rescued from a cave in Thailand, the entire world rejoices.

We also need to recognize that each of us has something positive to contribute to the common good. Therefore, we must depend on each other. There are many jobs I cannot do because I possess neither the skill nor the equipment to accomplish them. Whether it’s a surgeon saving a life, or a computer tech fixing a problem—they are providing services I cannot. Similarly, tasks are done by others that I lack the time or will to do. Picking the food we eat, building highways, running restaurants, and keeping the utilities on to name only a few.

So, if I’m unwilling or unable to provide a service I need, then I must depend on someone else. So, shouldn’t I be willing to pay the person adequately for their work? Faith challenges us to not think more highly of one’s self, than others. In other words, we should consider the other’s contribution just as significant as our own.

Finally, compensation should provide essentials for everyone. Those include quality food, an appropriate, safe place to live, education for a fulfilling job, healthcare, and transportation when needed. This should be everyone’s minimum compensation. A migrant worker, CEO of a corporation, plumber, typist, teacher, domestic worker, or President of a University all deserve the same essentials.

 

In The Doorkeeper’s Secrets, my version of the future equality is created by giving everyone the opportunity to live productive, secure lives. In my “future” everyone is compensated at an adequate level to provide all those essentials. If one finds the need for a different job, retraining is available. A collaborative social order creates opportunities for satisfying work. We depend upon one another and respect each other. When this becomes the case, there is no place for abuse, prejudice, greed, or arrogance.

If you would like to know more about this future, I invite you to read The Doorkeeper’s Secrets and comment on the possibility of such a future. The second book in the Sheltered Cities Series is expected out in September. More about The Doorkeeper’s Mind soon.

The next several blogs will reflect on an approach for understanding and addressing human needs. You’re invited to join in the discussion.